14 Southern California Teens Named Grand Prize Finalists in The Music Center's Spotlight Program

14 Southern California Teens Named Grand Prize Finalists in The Music Center's Spotlight Program

The Music Center named 14 outstanding Southern California high school students as Grand Prize Finalists in the 28th annual The Music Center's Spotlight (Spotlight), a free nationally recognized scholarship and arts training program for teens.

Two Grand Prize Finalists were named in each of seven categories, including acting, ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental.

All Finalists will receive $5,000 scholarships and appear in a ticketed Grand Finale Performance at The Music Center's Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 11, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., which will be hosted by Golden Globe-winning film and television actress, Jenna Elfman. Spotlight Grand Prize Finalists were chosen from more than 1,600 Southern California students who auditioned for panels of expert judges.

The Grand Prize Finalists include:
• Acting: Rhenzy Feliz, 18, Santa Monica/Santa Monica High School; Damaris Vizvett, 18, San Bernardino, Henry J. Kaiser High School
• Ballet: Ria Adachi, 14, Chino Hills/Chino Hills High School; Shelby Tzung, 15, Pacific Palisades; Palisades Charter High School
• Non-Classical Dance: Megan Goldstein, 14, Irvine/Pacific Coast High School; Emma Schiff, 17, Oak Park/Agoura Hills High School
• Classical Voice: Sydney Dardis, 17, Laguna Niguel/Orange County School of the Arts; Jason Risdana, 18, Mission Viejo/Orange County School of the Arts
• Non-Classical Voice: Ben Ross, 18, Santa Monica/Santa Monica High School, who was also recently named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts; Adam Yaron, 17, Los Angeles/Harvard-Westlake
• Classical Instrumental: Shane Conley, 18, Redondo Beach/Los Angeles County High School for the Arts; Geneva Lewis, 17, Irvine/Home schooled
• Jazz Instrumental: Luca Mendoza, 17, Pacific Palisades/Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences; Alec Schulman, 16, Los Angeles/Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences

More than a competition, the year-long Spotlight program provides opportunities for Southern California high school students to acquire the skills necessary to pursue their artistic dreams in the performing arts along with valuable workforce readiness skills. According to Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Spotlight is an important part of The Music Center's fundamental support for arts education. "Spotlight teaches teens that it is okay to step out of their comfort zone and aim for something that many of them believe may not be achievable," Moore explained. "With the rare opportunities that this program provides, including the chance to work with and get direct personalized feedback from highly regarded professional artists, the Spotlight Finalists have won more than a prize. They have gained the important life skills they need for their future careers," she added.

"We are very proud of these amazing students who are shining examples that dedication and perseverance, along with a passion for their art, can catapult young artists and advance their trajectory for success," said Jeri Gaile, director of The Music Center's Spotlight program.

In addition to the Grand Prize Finalists, The Music Center also named an Honorable Mention in each category, each of whom will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The Honorable Mentions include: Acting - Nicholas Apostolina, 18, Burbank, John Burroughs High School, Burbank; Ballet - Alonso Olvera-Gonzalez, 18, Monte Nido, Home schooled; Non-Classical dance - Justin Pham, 18, San Diego, Del Norte High School/San Diego; Classical Voice - Jeannine Bauer, 16, Ladera Ranch, St. Margaret's Episcopal High School/San Juan Capistrano; Non-Classical voice - Camille Arboles, 18, South Pasadena, Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus/Pasadena; Classical Instrumental - Nicholas Mendez, 16, Pasadena, Verdugo Academy/Glendale.

More than 40,000 students have participated in Spotlight since its original inception in 1988. The Music Center has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships and cash awards to aspiring performers and artists through this program. All high school students have the opportunity to attend the Spotlight Academy, a free day-long series of seminars and workshops led by outstanding professionals and arts educators. During the Academy, students, parents and teachers learn about what it takes to pursue higher education and careers in the arts. Throughout the program, students present their work for feedback before panels of judges, offering the aspiring performers a rich, customized learning experience.

Numerous Spotlight participants have gone on to successful professional careers. Nineteen finalists are U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and many more have joined or performed with professional companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. They include Misty Copeland, who made history in the dance world as the first African American principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre; Adam Lambert and Josh Groban, pop recording artists; Erin Mackey, star of Broadway's Wicked, Sondheim on Sondheim, Anything Goes, Chaplin and Amazing Grace; Yao Guan Zhai, associate principal clarinet of the Toronto Symphony; Gerald Clayton, Grammy Award winning jazz recording artist; and many others.

Fredric M. Roberts is founding chairman of The Music Center's Spotlight program. The late Walter Grauman was the creator.

Tickets to the June 11, 2016, Spotlight Grand Finale Performance are on sale now. Tickets start at $10 and are available at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012; by calling (213) 972-0711; or by visiting musiccenter.org/spotlightfinale.

For more information about The Music Center's Spotlight program, visit musiccenter.org/spotlight or join the conversation on facebook.com/spotlightawards.

The Music Center is Los Angeles' home to the world's greatest artistic programs and events. With four iconic theaters and four renowned resident companies - LA Phil, LA Opera, Center Theatre Group and the Los Angeles Master Chorale - and recognized for its illustrious dance programming, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, The Music Center is a destination where audiences find inspiration in the very best of live performance, as well as nationally recognized arts education and participatory arts experiences. The Music Center also programs and manages Grand Park, a 12-acre adjacent greenspace, with year-round free programming. For more information, visit musiccenter.org and follow The Music Center on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (@MusicCenterLA).

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