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LOS ANGELES (May 6, 2013) – The Music Center celebrated 12 teen performing artists and four visual artists at the 25th Annual Music Center Spotlight Awards during a finale performance hosted by Tony-nominated actor Charlayne Woodard at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday, May 4, 2013. This year’s top performers and semi-finalists were awarded more than $100,000 in cash scholarships, with $5,000 for students receiving first place and $4,000 for the runners-up in each category.

The event culminated the year-long free arts education program, which not only discovers unrecognized talent, but provides opportunities for aspiring artists to develop their skills, knowledge and self-confidence, in a highly supportive environment. Finalists were selected from more than 2,200 Southern California students who participated in the program. One-thousand two-hundred and thirty (1,230) applicants auditioned in the six performing arts categories: ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental. One-thousand and seventeen (1,017) applicants submitted artwork in the visual arts categories: two-dimensional art and photography. This year’s finalists represent a broad range of backgrounds and come from high schools throughout Southern California.

“Spotlight is a true celebration of both our most talented young artists as well as the powerful impact the performing arts makes on the lives of young people,” said Mark Slavkin, vice president of education, The Music Center. “During our 25 years and counting, Spotlight has touched more than 40,000 students, providing them with the tools and techniques to fine tune their craft and the opportunity to build their own self-esteem and confidence, skills that are valuable to their potential future artistic careers and throughout their lives.

Performing arts and visual arts finalists receiving first place and runner-up awards included: 

Non-Classical Voice: First place is Mark Mekailian, 17, senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and runner-up is Veronica Dunne, 17, senior at Oaks Christian High School.

Non-Classical Dance: First place is Donovan Okimura, 17, junior at Vista Murrieta High School, and runner-up is Nina Peng, 16, freshman at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Classical Voice: First place is Emily Kerrigan, 17, senior at Poway High School, and runner-up is Shannon Barry, 18, senior at Marlborough School.

Ballet: First place is Jennifer Grace (Bummer), 16, senior at Pacific Coast High School, and runner-up is David Preciado, 14, freshman at Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies.

Jazz Instrumental: First place is Max Lesser, 15, sophomore at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and runner-up is Joel Wenhardt, 16, junior at Orange County High School for the Arts.

Classical Instrumental: First place is Jennifer Kim, 14, freshman at Orange County High School for the Arts, and runner-up is Jiye Angela Bae, 14, freshman at Crossroads Schools for Arts and Science.

Photography: First place is Minu Jun, 16, sophomore at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and runner-up is Henry Abrego, 18, senior at Belmont High School.

Two-Dimensional Art: First place is Sarah Sung, 17, senior at Arnold O. Beckman High School, and runner-up is Penelope Uribe-Abee, 17, senior at Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts.

(NOTE: Photos of finalists available upon request.)

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

Non-Classical Dance: Emmy-nominated choreographer, Spencer Liff; Executive Producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel Lythgoe; Co-creator of the American Choreography Awards and dance talent agent, Julie McDonald

Classical Instrumental: pianist, harpsichordist and conductor Lucinda Carver; Associate Manager, Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles, Roger Kalia

Non-Classical Voice: Tony Award, Grammy Award and Drama Desk nominee, Kevin Chamberlain; Emmy Award-winner, Loretta Devine; Casting Director for Center Theatre Group, Mark Simon

Ballet: former Principal Dancer with Joffrey Ballet and Director and Vice Dean of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, Jodie Gates; Artistic Director of Ballet West, Adam Sklute; Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, Stanton Welch

Jazz Instrumental: Five-time Grammy-nominated composer, pianist and recording artist, David Benoit; Professor of Music in the Thornton School of Music at USC, Ronald McCurdy; Grammy Award-winner, Chris Walden Classical Voice: Music Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon; Grammy-nominated mezzo soprano, Suzanna Guzmán; and President and CEO of LA Opera, Christopher Koelsch.

The Music Center’s Spotlight Awards is one of the nation’s most acclaimed performing and visual arts education programs for teens, offering training in the arts and awarding more than $100,000 in scholarships annually to finalists and semifinalists. The program has launched numerous professional careers – fifteen finalists are Presidential Scholars, and many have joined or performed with professional companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Many alumni return to the program and participate as judges and master class instructors. Fredric M. Roberts is founding chairman of The Music Center Spotlight Awards and Walter Grauman is creator/executive producer. The Music Center Spotlight Awards is supported by Bank of America and Helen and Peter Bing. For more information about The Music Center Spotlight program, visit or join the conversation on

A leader at the cultural heart of Los Angeles County, The Music Center brings to life one of the world’s premier arts destinations by creating opportunities for arts participation, enabling compelling programming and providing first-class venues and services. The Music Center is one of the largest and most highly regarded performing arts centers in the country, 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– Centre Theatre Group, LA Opera, LA Phil, and Los Angeles Master Chorale – The Music Center is the place to experience the most innovative and critically-acclaimed performing arts in the nation. 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® at The Music Center. As well, The Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World City™ at The Music Center. Each year, over one million audience members delight in the excitement of live performances on The Music Center’s stages and enjoy free community arts events all year long across its outdoor campus. The Music Center is also on the forefront of arts education in Los Angeles, providing arts resources to students and teachers in schools and community centers throughout the region. For more information, visit



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