The Music Center Honors Southern California’s Leading Teen Artists at 26th Annual Spotlight Awards Show

– Nationally-Acclaimed Recognition Program Has Awarded More Than $1.5 Million in Scholarships to Aspiring Performers and Artists –

LOS ANGELES (April 28, 2014) – The Music Center celebrated 12 teen performing artists and four teen visual artists at The Music Center’s 26th Annual Spotlight Awards during a finale performance on Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Hosted by Oscar-nominated actor, musician and author, John Lithgow, the awards show culminated The Music Center’s year-long free recognition and scholarship program for Southern California high school performing and visual artists. A first place and runner-up were named in each of eight categories, including ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, two-dimensional art (works of art with height and weight, but no depth, using drawing, painting, computer generated or mixed media) and photography (black/white, color and digital).

This year’s top performing and visual artists were awarded more than $100,000 in cash scholarships with $5,000 for students selected as first place finalists and $4,000 for runners-up in each category; five honorable mentions in each category received $250.

The Spotlight Awards show is the centerpiece of The Music Center’s Spotlight arts education program and an important part of the performing arts organization’s fundamental commitment to helping all students receive outstanding arts learning experiences in their schools and in the community. More than 2,300 students auditioned for the program this year, with more than 40,000 students participating since Spotlight’s original inception in 1988.

“We are very proud of the many talented and hard-working young people who participated in this year’s Spotlight program and are honored to recognize their success,” said Stephen D. Rountree, president and CEO of The Music Center. “As we look to the 50th anniversary of The Music Center, which we will celebrate later this year, we re-affirm our commitment to Spotlight for its ability to provide students with the skills and the confidence they need to pursue their artistic dreams,” Rountree explained.

“So much of my work is about igniting a love for the arts in young people and giving them the opportunity for their own self-expression,” said John Lithgow. “The Music Center’s Spotlight program not only helps discover unrecognized talent, but helps build the students’ self-esteem. That is highly valuable to their future as artists, but even more critical to their ability to succeed in life,” he added.

All Spotlight participants, even before their auditions, have the opportunity to attend the Spotlight Academy, a day-long series of free workshops and seminars with presentations from professional artists and university educators. Later in the program, performing arts semi-finalists attend master classes taught by artists who share their expertise, while visual arts participants attend master classes and museum tours.

First Place and Runners-Up

Spotlight performing arts and visual arts finalists receiving first place and runners-up awards include: Non-Classical Voice: First place is Grant Grayson Bower, 16, a junior at Santa Barbara High School, and runner- up is Bella Porter, 16, a junior at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences (Santa Monica).

Classical Instrumental: First place is Ryan Roberts, 17, a senior at Santa Monica High School, and runner-up is Erick Chong, 18, a senior at Mira Costa High School.

Non-Classical Dance: First place is Nicole Ishimaru, 14, a freshman at Indiana University High School (online program), and runner-up is Abbigail Roque, 16, a junior at Chino Hills High School.

Jazz Instrumental: First place is Aaron Shaw, 18, a senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and runner-up is Jamael Dean, 15, a sophomore at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Ballet: First place is Madeline Woo, 15, a freshman at Huntington Beach High School, and second places is Nora Clemente, 17, a senior at Pacific Coast High School (Tustin).

Classical Voice: First place is Brett Schaffer, 18, a senior at Notre Dame High School (Sherman Oaks), and runner-up is Amanda Anderson, 18, a senior at the Orange County School of the Arts.

Two-Dimensional Art: First place is Dayeon Han, 19, a senior at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and runner-up is Steve Sung Eun Kim, 18, a senior at Los Alamitos High School.

Photography: First place is Angela Francis, 17, a senior at Bishop Montgomery High School (Torrance), and runner-up is Sophia Arriola-Gibson, 17, a senior at South Pasadena High School.

NOTE: Photos of finalists are available upon request.


The evening’s performances were judged by an esteemed panel of celebrity and performing arts judges, including:

Non-Classical Voice: Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk nominee, Kevin Chamberlain; Grammy award- winning singer, songwriter and actor, Melissa Manchester; and Center Theatre Group Casting Director Mark Simon Classical Instrumental: Vice Dean at the USC Thornton School of Music Lucinda Carver; Artistic Administrator of the LA Phil Meghan Martineau; and Conductor and former music director of the Pasadena Symphony, Jorge Mester

Non-Classical Dance: Television and film director and producer and Music Center Board member, Nigel Lythgoe; Co-creator of the American Choreography Awards and dance talent agent, Julie Macdonald; and American Choreography Award-winner and Emmy-nominated choreographer, Keith Young

Jazz Instrumental: Three-time Grammy award-winner and 16-time Grammy nominated composer Gordon Goodwin; Grammy and Oscar-nominated bassist Alphonso Johnson; and Grammy-nominated composer, arranger and conductor, Chris Walden

Ballet: Former New York City Ballet principal dancer and director for the Colburn Dance Academy, Jenifer Ringer; Artistic Director of Ballet West, Adam Sklute; and Artistic Director of the Houston Ballet, Stanton Welch

Classical Voice: LA Opera soloist, Greg Fedderly; Mezzo-Soprano and Chapman University Artist-in- Residence, Milena Kitic; and Head Coach for LA Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, Nino Sanikidze

Photography judges include commercial and fine art videographer and photographer, Mario de Lopez; Los Angeles Times staff photographer, Genaro Molina; Los Angeles County Museum of Art Curator and Head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, Britt Salvesen; award-winning photographer, Aline Smithson; and multi-media photographer and CalArts visiting faculty, Suné Woods. Two-dimensional art judges include Chair of Graduate Studies for the UC Irvine Art Department, Kevin Appel; Los Angeles Valley College Associate Professor of Art, Phung Huynh; cultural worker and ChicanArte art ambassador, Leo Limón; Head of Design at the USC Roski School of Art of Design, Haven Lin-Kirk; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art co-curator, Nancy Meyer.

Numerous Spotlight participants have gone on to successful professional careers. Fifteen finalists are Presidential Scholars, 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 as the first African American female in two decades to be appointed soloist at American Ballet Theatre (and one of the only African American female soloists in major U.S. companies); Ashley Ellis, a principal dancer at Boston Ballet; Adam Lambert and Josh Groban, pop recording artists; Derek Klena, currently starring in The Bridges of Madison County on Broadway; 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 Spotlight Awards and Walter Grauman is creator/executive producer. The Music Center Spotlight program is supported by Bank of America and Helen and Peter Bing.

For more information about The Music Center’s Spotlight program, visit

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About The Music Center

The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the country, and the place to experience the most innovative and critically-acclaimed performing arts in the nation, creating a cultural hub that is central to L.A.’s status as “the creative capital” of the world. Celebrated for its illustrious dance programming, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, and home to four world-class resident companies – Center Theatre Group, LA Opera, LA Phil and Los Angeles Master Chorale – The Music Center’s 22-acre campus includes four iconic venues – Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre – as well as The Music Center Plaza and the newly opened Grand Park. Each year, more than two million people enjoy live performances and free community arts events at The Music Center. In its effort to extend the reach and accessibility of the performing arts, The Music Center is a national model for experiences in which people participate directly through its Active Arts® programming. In addition, The Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World CityTM which takes place in the Keck Amphitheatre at Walt Disney Concert

Hall. The Music Center is nationally recognized as a leader in arts education, providing resources students and teachers in schools and community centers throughout the region. For more information, visit and follow The Music Center on Facebook and Twitter (@MusicCenterLA).


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