Local students named as semifinalists in The Music Center’s 32nd annual Spotlight program

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A group of students from Temecula, Murrieta, Winchester, Wildomar and Idyllwild were named as semifinalists in the Music Center’s 32nd annual Spotlight program, a free nationally acclaimed scholarship and arts training program for teens.

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.

Semifinalists in ballet include Idyllwild resident Andrea Hernandez, a senior at Idyllwild Arts Academy; Bergundi Loyd, a 10th grade home-school student from Wildomar, and Keara Nichols, an 11th grade home-school student from Winchester.

Loyd, along with Temecula resident Jason Pieters, a sophomore at Temecula Valley High School; Menifee resident Jordan Demary, a junior at Murrieta Valley High School, and Murrieta resident Thomas Fekete, a senior at Murrieta Mesa High School, were named as semifinalists in non-classical dance.

As semifinalists, the students will receive the 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 select the top two finalist performers in each category for 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, Saturday, May 30.

“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,” Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, said. “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.”

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.

“Spotlight is so much more than just a scholarship program,” Jeri Gaile, director of The Music Center’s Spotlight program, said. “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.”

Since it launched in 1998, Spotlight has transformed the lives of 49,000 students across southern California. This year, nearly 1,400 teens representing more than 260 schools, 198 cities and eight counties auditioned for the program.

For more information on the Music Center and the Spotlight program, visit www.musiccenter.org.

Valley Staff can be reached at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.