The Music Center announced that its 32nd SPOTLIGHT GRAND FINALE on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 7:00 pm will feature performances by award-winning Southern California high school students along with SPOTLIGHT ALUMNI Lindsay Mendez, Matthew Rushing, Misty Copeland, and Josh Groban. The difference this year is that due to COVID-19, for the first time ever the presentation will take place virtually. Directing this special production of the Spotlight Grand Finale is Nicole Alexander.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Music Center’s youth arts program rose to the challenge and quickly adapted by transitioning to hosting online auditions. Although the 2020  Spotlight Grand Finale cannot take place in one of The Music Center venues, it is committed to honoring the hard work and dedication of these extraordinarily talented students by presenting the performances virtually rather than cancelling them.

The 2020 featured alumni include Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer for American Ballet Theatre; Lindsay Mendez, Tony Award winning Broadway actress, Matthew Rushing, Associate Artistic Director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; and Josh Groban, Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and actor. The Music Center Spotlight is recognized nationally and has awarded over $2.5 million in scholarships to over 49,000 high school students. Since its establishment in 1988, the Spotlight Awards has become the launching pad for many now famous artists above and beyond those mentioned above. This years Virtual Grand Finale and Benefit will showcase the talents of the crème de la crème from 14 high school students in the categories of Acting, Dance, Music, and Vocals.

Nearly 1,400 teens representing more than 260 schools, 198 cities and eight California counties auditioned this year; each having the opportunity to attend the Spotlight Academy, “a free day-long series of seminars and workshops led by outstanding professionals and arts educators”. The finalists were chosen after they had participated in three rounds of auditions and attended numerous master classes. These classes were taught by leading professionals who provided invaluable one-on-one coaching and feedback that artists require to improve their technical and performance skills.

Meet The Spotlight Grand Prize Finalists – Photos courtesy of The Music Center

Tyla Uzo Evan Klein Jacob Jovanni Alvarado 2 Ashley Lew Maya Coyne Bergundi Loyd Estefani Lopez Rena Maduro Amelia Aguilar Daisy Tye Albert Gang Anoush Pogossian 2 Ethan Avery Kai Burns
Ballet: Jacob Jovanni Alvarado, 16, a sophomore at Cabrillo Point Academy of Inspire Charter Schools (San Diego)

In addition to extensive mentoring throughout the year-long program, each finalist receives a $5,000 cash scholarship. The Music Center’s youth arts program adapted to the new environment, transitioning to hosting online auditions and providing these aspiring students with a global online stage for the program’s Grand Finale performance in its commitment to honoring them and celebrating their incredible artistry and dedication.

Other recipients of their Spotlight Award who turned their dream into a reality include Danielle de Niese (Spotlight Classical Voice, 1995) is now a major international opera star; Adam Lambert (Spotlight, Non-classical voice, 2000) was nominated for a Grammy as a recording artist; Miles Mosley (Spotlight Jazz Instrumental, 1998) is an internationally-acclaimed jazz bassist and vocalist; Michelle Kim (Spotlight Classical Instrumental, 1990) has become an Assistant Concertmaster with the New York Philharmonic; and Joshua Winograde (Spotlight Classical Voice, 1992), is the Senior Director, Artistic Programs at LA Opera.

You may watch the Spotlight Annual Finale on Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 7:00 pm Pacific Time on and

Written by Jeff Slayton for LADC, May 22, 2020.

Feature image: The Music Center Spotlight Finalists – Collage photo courtesy of The Music Center – Added features by LADC