Stamford's Palace Theatre Honors Local Students With Scholarships; Anna Black Wins Grand Prize

Stamford's Palace Theatre has awarded the 2014 Emerging Young Artist scholarships to deserving Fairfield County high school students. And for the first time, The Palace has given four awards: a $2,000 Grand Prize, a $500 Second Prize, a $250 Third Prize, and a new $150 Promising Young Artist award. This year's Grand Prize winner is Greenwich High School's Anna Black, the Second Prize winner is Darien High School's Alison Lui, the Third Prize winner is Fairfield Warde High School's Connor Levinson, and the Promising Young Artist is Ethan Riordan of Stamford.

This year, the adjudicators included Broadway & Hollywood luminaries and esteemed local educators. Students from across the county had the rare opportunity to be heard by some of the finest professionals in the business: David Friedman (conductor of the Disney movies "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin"), Paul McKibbins (composer and Broadway publisher) and John Yoon (award-winning educator from Greenwich High School).

Grand Prize winner Anna Black, a senior at Greenwich High School, said, "Music is the driving force in my life. I always have been and always will be extremely passionate about my work with dreams of turning my music into something larger. To have my composition be recognized in such a prestigious manner is not only an incredible honor, but it inspires me to continue to pursue what I love." Ms. Black will be attending Bucknell University in the Fall.

Connor Levinson, Class of 2014 at Fairfield Warde High School, has been writing music and playing guitar since age 9. "It is the responsibility of my generation to continue to make music for the world to enjoy," he explained. "I am honored that my music is being recognized as something worth listening to." Mr. Levinson will be attending Berklee College of Music in the Fall and will continue to write, study guitar and play French horn.

Darien High School junior Alison Lui, a pianist and violist, has been studying music for 11 years. "I really enjoy playing and writing music, and it has really encouraged me that judges of this caliber enjoyed my work," said Ms. Lui. "I feel so inspired to continue pursuing composition and I am so grateful for this opportunity." Currently, she is the Assistant Principal Violist of the Norwalk Youth Symphony's Principal Orchestra, and the Principal Violist with the DHS Pops Chamber Ensemble.

The first-ever Promising Young Artist scholarship has been awarded to Stamford eighth grader Ethan Riordan from Turn of the River Middle School. "I am very honored that The Palace chose to create this special award for me," said Mr. Riordan. "Their appreciation of my work gives me the added confidence to continue learning."

"We had an extraordinary crop of gifted musicians who participated in the audition process this year," enthused The Palace's Producing Artistic Director, BT McNicholl. "Our adjudicators, all professionals of the highest caliber, were thoroughly impressed and happily surprised to find such an abundance of young talent."

The Palace and Gala Chair Lynn DiMenna presented the Grand Prize award to Anna Black in a special ceremony at the annual Palace Theatre Gala on April 4th. The monies raised support The Palace and its Arts Education programs such as the Triple Threat Performer Intensive, Young Choreographers Festival, summer and in-school-time performances on the HARMAN Stage and the annual Emerging Young Artist Scholarship. The Gala was made possible by the generosity of Presenting Sponsors NBC Universal, Purdue Pharma and RFR Realty.

About the Palace Theatre: The vision of the Palace Theatre is to be the regional arts center for exciting entertainment that enhances and enriches the cultural, educational, economic, and social life of the community. The Palace strives to achieve this vision by demonstrating integrity in all work and relationships, providing service and quality in all activities, fostering and promoting diversity of thought, ideas and culture, providing stewardship for the Stamford Arts community, emphasizing outreach in our community, and offering creativity in all endeavors. Major funding is provided by the Department of Economic & Community Development and the Office of the Arts.

Pictured: Producing Artistic Director, BT McNicholl presents Emerging Young Artist scholarship to Anna Black. Photo © Tim Coffey Photography.

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