Three local students named semifinalists in Music Center’s Spotlight Program

Press release

News release 

The Music Center announced that 114 of Southern California’s most talented high school students — including three from the Santa Clarita Valley — have advanced to become semifinalists in The Music Center’s 36th Annual Spotlight program, a free, nationally acclaimed performing arts competition, scholarship and artistic development program for teens.  

This year, more than 1,520 teens, representing 265 schools, 177 cities and eight counties, auditioned for the prestigious program. 

The semifinalists include the following Santa Clarita residents:  

• Emma Rose Crawford, a dancer in 11th grade at Laurel Springs School in Ojai. 

• Ananya Joseph, a dancer in ninth grade at Academy of the Canyons. 

• Vinay Sundar, a classical instrumentalist in 12th grade at Valencia High School. 

A program of The Music Center’s programming arm TMC Arts, Spotlight offers Southern California teens expert advice, coaching, auditions and mastery classes taught by professional artists and arts administrators in seven categories: acting, ballet, dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and contemporary instrumental.  

The program recognizes and rewards participants throughout the competition with more than $100,000 in cash awards following three rounds of auditions. To date, The Music Center has given over $2.8 million in scholarships. 
“Congratulations to this year’s Spotlight semifinalists for advancing this far,” Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, said in a news release. “It is encouraging to see so many young people from throughout Southern California apply for this program, which is testament not only to their talent and potential, but also to their courage and dedication to the performing arts.” 

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 (two from each category). Judges will also name an Honorable Mention in each category. The Grand Prize Finalists will perform in The Music Center’s Spotlight Grand Finale on Tuesday, June 4, at 7 p.m. at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles. 
The Music Center’s Spotlight program awards more than $100,000 in cash scholarships annually. Semifinalists each receive $500. Grand Prize Finalists will each receive $5,000 scholarships; one Honorable Mention in each category will receive $1,000.  

Spotlight alumni include Misty Copeland, who made history in the dance world as the first African American principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre; recording artists Adam Lambert and Josh Groban; Emmy Award-winning composer Kris Bowers, whose work includes the scores for “Bob Marley: One Love,” “Bridgerton” and “Green Book”; Lindsay Mendez, Tony Award winner for her role in the Broadway revival of “Carousel”; Erin Mackey, star of Broadway’s “Wicked,” “Sondheim on Sondheim,” “Anything Goes,” “Chaplin,” and “Amazing Grace”; Matthew Rushing, associate artistic director for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Yao Guang Zhai, associate principal clarinet of the Toronto Symphony; and Gerald Clayton, Grammy Award-winning jazz recording artist. 
For more information about The Music Center’s Spotlight program, visit 

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