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2020 Rising Star Finalists Compete for $5,000 Cash Prize at the Celebration of the Arts in Howard County

2020 Rising Star Finalists Compete for $5,000 Cash Prize at the Celebration of the Arts in Howard County

The Howard County Arts Council has announced Howard County's signature arts event! The Celebration of the Arts in Howard County, presented by Howard Bank, will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2020 at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College, Columbia, MD. Mary Ann and Chuck Scully will act as Honorary Chairs for the evening. Joseph Ritsch, Producing Artistic Director for Rep Stage, will serve as Event Emcee.

The Celebration is a multi-faceted event showcasing and promoting the arts and raising funds in support of the arts, artists, and arts organizations in Howard County. A highlight of the Celebration each year is the Rising Star Performing Arts Competition, in which emerging performing artists compete for a cash prize of $5,000. In November, individual performing artists and small ensembles - aged 18 to 35 years and currently or recently living, working, performing regularly, or receiving training in Howard County - auditioned before a panel of professionals in their discipline. Review criteria included artistic merit, demonstrated experience in the arts, and commitment to a career in the arts.

The selected Rising Star finalists will perform at the Celebration before an audience of artists, arts patrons, business and political representatives, and community members who will select the winner by popular vote. The award will be presented on stage that evening!

The Rising Stars performing at the 2020 Celebration are Maya Celeste, Dance; Kayla Dunn, Musical Theatre; Gabriel Hightower, Cello; Kyeongmi Lim, Piano; Ching-Yi Lin, Piano; Alan Naylor, Musical Theatre; Mayukha Pakala, Dance; Gillian Rossbach, Classical Voice; and Nia Savoy, Musical Theatre.

Maya Celeste, Dance

A 2017 graduate of Atholton High School, Maya Celeste has been training in dance for just four years. She has won many awards and scholarships for her dance and choreography including JUMP VIP Winner, Joffrey Trainee Invitation, and a TD scholarship. She has placed top 10 in dance competitions such as JUMP, NUVO Regionals, and Showstopper Nationals and qualified for Season 16 of So You Think You Can Dance- judges' solo round. Maya is currently a junior Bachelor of Fine Arts Dance Major at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and hopes to be a dancer in the Hollywood commercial dance scene and on the Broadway stage.

Kayla Dunn, Musical Theatre

Born and raised in Maryland, Kayla Dunn started performing around age 8. Kayla has studied devised theatre and improv with HCC's Arts Collective, dance with Maryland's SOAR dance company, and performed as one of the Dynamites in Hairspray where she found her love for musical theatre in high school. Currently studying at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Kayla is the Secretary of the school's Musical Theatre Club and has played Deb in Ordinary Days, Martha in Spring Awakening, and was the choreographer for Godspell.

Gabriel Hightower, Cello

Gabriel Hightower has been a resident of Howard County for 20 years. Introduced to the cello as a third grader at Phelps Luck Elementary School, Gabriel found a creative outlet in music which motivated him to pursue it as a career. Gabriel earned his Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Maryland in 2019 and is currently pursuing a Master of Music at Carnegie Mellon University. He hopes to add Arts Management classes to his area of study and pursue a career in Arts Administration.

Kyeongmi Lim, Piano

A native of South Korea, Kyeongmi Lim received her Master of Music degree from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Alexander Shtarkman. She has won many prizes at competitions such as The Music Education News Competition, Namyangju Symphony Orchestra Music Competition, Camerata Artists International Competition, and more. Kyeongmi performed at the 76th Chosun Newspaper Debut Concert for New Talent, Euroasia Music Festival Orchestra, and more. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Music degree from Catholic University of America under the tutelage of Ivo Kaltchev.

Ching-Yi Lin, Piano

Taiwanese pianist Ching-Yi Lin performs throughout North America and Asia. He has been featured as a soloist in such venues as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, National Opera Center in New York City, National Recital Hall at Taiwan, and more. Ching-Yi has been awarded numerous prizes including the Marbella International, the New York International Artist Association, and the Wonderlic Piano Competitions. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Peabody Institute under the tutelage of Alexander Shtarkman. He regularly participates in cultural events in Howard County, including teaching piano lessons and local performances.

Alan Naylor, Musical Theatre

An actor, singer, pianist, and piano technician who works throughout the DC/Baltimore area, Alan Naylor was last seen in Howard County portraying Cosme McMoon in Rep Stage's production of Souvenir. In addition to solo cabarets and concerts, past credits include: Comedy of Tenors, On the Town, Annie, Sweeney Todd (Olney Theatre Center); A Little Night Music (Signature); Proving Up (Washington National Opera); and Les Misérables (SONOVA). He earned his Master of Music in Opera Performance from Washington University in St. Louis and received the Helen Hayes Award: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for his performance in Jacques Brel.

Mayukha Pakala, Dance

Mayukha Pakala has been a resident of Howard County since elementary school. She learned the Indian classical dance form called Kuchipudi from her mother and has performed at various local and Indian festivities. As a part of the ISHARA club at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Mayukha has been very active in promoting Kuchipudi and is eager to continue to promote the dance form to the Howard County community as a performer and a teacher. She looks forward to one day obtaining a certification in Kuchipudi.

Gillian Rossbach, Classical Voice

A classically trained vocal performer, Gillian Rossbach received the 2018 Centennial High School National Choral Award and placed second in the 2019 National Association of Teachers of Singing competition. Currently studying Music Education with a vocal concentration at Ithaca College in New York, she is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Educators. She was a member and student teacher with the prestigious Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute Children's Chorus and is excited to pursue a career in music education to enable the next generation of musicians to enjoy a successful and rewarding career in music and the arts.

Nia Savoy, Musical Theatre

Nia Savoy is a recent graduate of Howard University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. She has worked with Extensions of Excellence, Mahogany Ensemble Theatre, Academy of Children's Theatre, Shreveport Little Theatre, Stage Center, YoungArts, Toby's Dinner Theatre, Constellation Theatre Company, and more. Nia was the 2014 Inspiration Award winner of the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Competition and most recently won the NextGen: Finding the Voices of Tomorrow Vocal Competition hosted by The American Pops Orchestra.

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