Three Newport Beach High School Students Selected as Semifinalists in The Music Center’s Spotlight Competition

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The Music Center in Los Angeles has announced 100 of Southern California’s most talented high school students as semifinalists in The Music Center’s 34th annual Spotlight program, a free nationally acclaimed performing arts competition, scholarship and artistic development program for teens.

Sanjana Khurana

Three students from Newport Beach schools are among the finalists: Sanjana Khurana, Classical Voice (Sage Hill School), Emmitt Butler, Acting (Newport Harbor High School), and Evan Richards, Classical Voice (Newport Beach resident that attends OC School of the Arts).

A TMC Arts program, Spotlight provides Southern California teens with expert advice, coaching, auditions and mastery classes taught by professional artists and arts administrators. The program recognizes and rewards all participants throughout the competition with a range of benefits such as individual feedback from industry professionals, performance opportunities and more than $100,000 in cash awards through three rounds of auditions.

This year, more than 1,300 teens representing more than 256 schools, 181 cities and 8 counties auditioned for the prestigious program. Students compete in seven categories: acting, classical voice, non-classical voice, ballet, dance, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental.

Evan Richards

All applicants receive written feedback from distinguished panels of judges following each audition round to help students improve and gain knowledge in their particular performance discipline.

An important part of The Music Center’s fundamental support for arts learning, the program provides students the opportunity to develop their performance abilities, receive valuable college preparedness skills and gain confidence to pursue their dreams in the performing arts. Through a supportive environment, students also develop important life skills, including building self‐esteem, preparation and perseverance, that benefit them beyond the stage.

“After nearly two years of online programming and distanced arts learning, The Music Center is thrilled to bring the Spotlight performance and in-person arts experiences back to our campus. Spotlight offers participants multiple opportunities for artistic development that help these aspiring young performers hone their craft and guide their aspirations, whether that be on stage or in the boardroom,” said Rachel S. Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center. “We want to ensure young people have a supportive and nurturing environment and performance experiences that allow them to develop their talents and determine their path. Spotlight offers the means for them to do that.”

Emmitt Butler

Spotlight semifinalists have the rare opportunity to attend a special mastery class in their discipline 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 in The Music Center’s Spotlight Grand Finale Performance on June 15, 2022, at 7:30 p.m., at The Music Center’s Ahmanson Theatre.

The Music Center’s Spotlight program awards more than $100,000 in cash scholarships annually. Semifinalists each receive $300. The eventual Grand Prize Finalists will each receive $5,000 scholarships, plus one Honorable Mention in each category will receive $1,000. 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.

For more information about The Music Center’s Spotlight program, visit

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