Applications open for Spotlight Program at the Music Center

The Music Center today announced that applications are open for The Music Center’s 27th Annual Spotlight Program.  Southern California high school students who are interested in the performing arts are encouraged to apply to participate in Spotlight, one of the nation’s premier arts education and scholarship programs for teens.  

The program, which provides arts training by professional artists and awards more than $100,000 in scholarships, is part of The Music Center’s commitment to helping all students receive outstanding arts learning experiences in their schools and in the community.  

More than 40,000 students have participated in Spotlight to date, and the program has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships to aspiring performers and artists.

Spotlight is free and open to all students who attend high school in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.

 Students of all skill levels can apply in one of seven categories, including ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental, jazz instrumental, and acting, a new category added this year.  

Those students applying to the acting category must apply by October 1, 2014.  Students interested in all other categories must apply by October 20, 2014.  Applications are available at musiccenter.org/spotlight.

Spotlight was developed by The Music Center to offer distinctive learning opportunities at every stage of artistic development.  According to Jeri Gaile, director of The Music Center’s Spotlight program, Spotlight provides invaluable professional guidance in the performing arts to thousands of Southern California high school students each year.

 “Spotlight is much more than a competition; it provides an opportunity not only for artistic growth, where young artists can improve their audition and performance skills, but also a pathway for personal growth as young performers gain confidence and self-esteem.  Those are skills that are critical for success in life,” she explained.

All students enrolled in the program work with professionals to develop audition skills and knowledge in their performance disciplines.  Those students selected by professional judges to advance as semifinalists participate in master classes, compete to perform at The Music Center and receive cash scholarships.  

Grand Prize Finalists in each category receive $5,000 scholarships.  Honorable Mentions receive $1,000 scholarships and semifinalists receive $300 scholarships.  In addition, selected preliminary students will receive $100 scholarships.

In addition to the new acting category, The Music Center announced several changes to The Spotlight program for 2014, including the discontinuation of the two-dimensional and photography categories in favor of a greater emphasis on the performing arts.  

More opportunities will be added for students to gain insights about preparing for college and careers in the arts and related fields.  This year, the culminating performance will be presented on stage at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

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; Adam Lambert and Josh Groban, pop recording artists; Erik Altemus currently starring in Pippin on Broadway; Yao Guan Zhai, associate principal clarinet of the Toronto Symphony; Gerald Clayton, Grammy Award winning jazz recording artist; and many others.  Many alumni return to the program to participate as judges and class instructors.

 Fredric M. Roberts is founding chairman of The Music Center Spotlight Awards, and Walter Grauman is creator/executive producer.  For more information about The Music Center’s Spotlight program, visitmusiccenter.org/spotlight or join the conversation onfacebook.com/spotlightawards.