Gihanna Kelly, a singer from Redlands who attends the Encore High School for the Arts in Riverside, is one of 113 high school students named as semifinalists in The Music Center’s 32nd annual Spotlight program.
Since the nationally acclaimed scholarship and arts training program for teens was established in 1988, Spotlight has transformed the lives of 49,000 students across Southern California by being more than just a competition. An important part of The Music Center’s fundamental support for arts education, the arts training program provides students the opportunity to develop their performance abilities, learn about careers in arts management and receive valuable college preparedness and workforce readiness skills to pursue their dreams in the performing arts.
This year, nearly 1,400 teens representing more than 260 schools, 198 cities and eight counties auditioned for the prestigious program.
The Music Center named this years’ semifinalists in each of seven categories—acting, ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental.
“Spotlight is a prime example of The Music Center’s commitment to deepen the cultural lives of all, in this case empowering young, aspiring artists with the skills and tools to explore their potential,” said Rachel Moore president and CEO of The Music Center. “This yearlong journey has the added benefit of helping these students develop critical life skills that can set them on a path to success, whether or not they pursue a career in the arts.”
According to Jeri Gaile, director of The Music Center’s Spotlight program, “Spotlight is so much more than just a scholarship program, it’s an opportunity for young performers to discover their full potential and push themselves to continue to achieve their goals. What makes this program so unique is not only the amazing talent that goes through the Spotlight process, but also the individuals who discover a new passion for the arts off stage or behind the scenes.”
Semifinalists receive a rare opportunity to attend a special master class in their genre with highly regarded artists, who share their expertise on performance technique, training and professional life. Experts provide students with highly valuable feedback on their performances, offering them a rich learning experience. Each semifinalist will audition again before a new panel of judges, who will then select the top two finalist performers in each category for a total of 14 Grand Prize Finalists. Judges will also name an Honorable Mention in each category. The Grand Prize Finalists will perform at The Music Center’s Ahmanson Theatre in the Spotlight Grand Finale Performance on May 30, 2020.
The Music Center’s Spotlight program awards more than $100,000 in cash scholarships annually. Both Grand Prize Finalists in each category receive $5,000 scholarships, with one Honorable Mention in each category receiving $1,000. Semifinalists each receive $300. The Music Center also celebrates five students in each category with the Merit Award, which acknowledges students who inspire the judges by their commitment and dedication to their art form. Spotlight Merit Award recipients each receive $100. This year, The Music Center is also partnering with Interlochen Center for the Arts to award all Spotlight semifinalists scholarship dollars to Interlochen’s summer camp and Arts Academy for the 2020- 2021 academic year. All participants who were selected to participate in the preliminary second round of Spotlight auditions also received scholarship dollars from Interlochen to use toward one of the organization’s three- or six-week programs.