Shannon ’13, April ’13 and Kiki ’13 were recognized for their talents in the visual and performing arts as semifinalists in the Los Angeles Music Center Spot- light Awards. Shannon and April were named semifinalists in the Awards’ classical voice category after a series of live auditions, and Kiki was named a semifinalist in the photography category. Shannon received an Honorable Mention and a $250 prize. As one of the two Grand Prize Finalists in the classical voice category, April will per- form at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion this spring to deter- mine whether she will receive a scholarship prize of $4,000 or $5,000, depending on whether she wins the title of First or Second Grand Prize Finalist.
After making it past the initial audition process, April, Shannon and the other classical voice semifinalists received master classes from Cynthia Munzer, an Associate Professor of Vocal Arts and Opera at USC.
Shannon and April both said that although the 15 semifinalists were competing against each other, the Spotlight Awards pro- gram fostered a collaborative, positive learning environment. April, who was also recently named a semifinalist in Classical Singer Magazine’s High School Vocal Competition, said that the Spotlight Awards are less fiercely competitive than many other vocal competitions.
“We’re encouraged to net- work with other singers and to see them as people we’re going to see in the future on- stage rather than as competitors,” April said.
Kiki was named a Spotlight semifinalist after she submitted “Hatching,” a photo she created as an assignment for her AP Photography class this year. After becoming a semifinalist for “Hatching,” she presented a portfolio of seven of her strongest photos to a panel of judges for feedback. Her photos also received an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Scholastic Art Awards.
Kiki said that the Spotlight Awards and the Scholastic Awards marked the first time she has won honors for her work. However, she said that she picked up a camera almost as soon as she could talk; her father, a professional photographer, taught her the basics and she grew up watching his photo shoots. According to Kiki, the news that she had been named a semifinalist came as a surprise.
“[Presenting my photos to the Spotlight Awards judges] was kind of nerve-racking, but it was already such a great opportunity and I wasn’t really expecting anything more,” she said. “Being placed in the top 15 out of 650 [competitors], I didn’t even know that was possible.”
Shannon said that although she also began entering competitions like Spotlight very recently, her passion for classical music and voice began when she was a child.
“When I was 11, I heard Phantom of the Opera and I absolutely fell in love with it. That’s when I started singing classically,” she said.
April also discovered her passion for music at a young age.
“When I was three, I would sit my mom down on a little tea table thing and make her watch me sing Korean folk songs for hours,” April said.
Both Shannon and April take individual voice lessons, participate in musical theater productions and are members of Chamber Choir.