Our Very Special Arts Festival

The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival

The Very Special Arts Festival is one of our absolute favorites events.  It’s our annual event celebrating the artistic achievements of students with disabilities and their mainstream peers.  This year marks the  37th year of the festival and tomorrow, Friday, October 23, our plaza is going to be packed with children, teachers, and performers partaking.

The festival features student and professional performances on two stages, visual and performing arts workshops, and a student art exhibit created around a central theme of Making Connections.  Presented in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Very Special Arts Festival is free to the public and open to all grade levels.

The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival The Music Center's Very Special Arts Festival

If you’re in the area, come by and check it out from 9:30am to 1pm.  It is guaranteed to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face!  You can also catch pics and videos on our social channels by searching #VSAF15.


How to Create an Awesome Spotlight Audition Video

Alyssa Allen Spotlight Awards

Our Spotlight Program – a free scholarship, training program and competition for high school kids in southern California – is back for it’s 28th year and applications are open now.  This amazing program has helped to foster some of the biggest and brightest talent in the performing arts, with artists like Misty Copeland, and Josh Groban among it’s extensive roster of alumni!

Hannah Song Spotlight Awards Spotlight Awards 1 Spotlight Awards 3 Spotlight Awards 2

This year, we’re asking all applicants to submit a video performance as part of their application, and to show just how easy and fun the video process can be, we teamed up with another Spotlight alum, the brilliant Melinda Sullivan, to create the ultimate “how-to” video!  Have a look…

So whether you sing, dance, act, or play an instrument, if you’re a talented SoCal teen (or perhaps the teacher or parent of one) looking for an amazing opportunity to expand your skills, broaden your talent and potentially win a $5000 scholarship, upload your application to the Spotlight Awards program ASAP!  Applications close on October 19th, so hop to it!


School is Better with Music Center On Tour!

It’s hard to believe that most Los Angeles schools have started back already and SoCal kids everywhere are trading their swimsuits for school supplies.  But here at The Music Center, we’ve got a solution to sweeten any students’ school day – Music Center On Tour!

Our Music Center On Tour program brings amazing performers like Diavolo / Architecture in Motion dance company and Ballet Folclorico do Brasil to schools across LA county.  Through thrilling, in-school assemblies, our large selection of touring artists are able to bring the magic of the performing arts to thousands of kids each year – exposing them to new art forms, classic stories, diverse cultural traditions, and rich educational content.

The shows are fun, high energy, and engaging for students and faculty alike, but we take it one step further.    Music Center on Tour school assemblies are designed to complement and enhance what students are learning in the classroom too, so we also include written teacher preparation materials that contain background information on the artist(s), as well as pre- and post-performance activities for the classroom that connect to multiple curricular areas.

Music Center On Tour

Check out all the details on Music Center On Tour, and peruse our list of performers on our website.  Fill out our request form to book an assembly for your students, your child’s school, your friend’s school, your second cousin’s kids’ school… Whomever!  Now’s the perfect time to bring a little razzle dazzle into the school day, and Music Center On Tour is just the ticket!

Shining the Spotlight on New Talent!

This past Tuesday, we celebrated the 27th Annual Spotlight Awards with the Grand Finale Performance in Walt Disney Concert Hall!  It was a new venue for our Spotlight Awards (usually held in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion,) with a new host in the brilliant Jenna Elfman, and with an added new category- Acting.  We also had a new format for our grand prize finalists (of which there are two in each category) in that they all received the grand prize and this final performance was just that – a performance celebrating their tremendous talent and dedication to their art-forms.   So while it felt like a year of “new things” for Spotlight, the talent in all the participants was just as inspiring and remarkable as ever!

Take a moment to meet all our amazing finalists… We can bet you’re going to see their names in programs and marquees in the future!

Here’s a quick slideshow of some of our favorite moments from the day…

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Also, if you came to the performance take your ticket stub over to any Urth Caffe and get a FREE cappuccino or any drink up to $5, plus 20% off any purchase at all URTH CAFFE LOCATIONS.  (Offer valid thru April 15, 2015.)


All photos by Danielle Klebanow

Gone Gamelan

The Music Center Gamelan Workshop

We recently held our first ever Gamelan Workshop here at The Music Center – allowing Angelenos from all walks of life the chance to learn to play this beautifully unique instrument.  What’s more, participants learned traditional Balinese songs and dances to accompany their music making, giving a full-spectrum into the art-form.

The sounds of gamelans and gongs echoing through the halls of our Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was truly magical and despite being newbies to the craft, everyone at our workshop totally rocked it!

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Want to come to one of our workshops in the future?

 Sign up for our email list to stay in the know!  

The Spotlight Awards 2014

The Music Center Spotlight Awards 2014 Finalists

The Spotlight Awards.  How can we possibly sum it up?  John Lithgow, the host of this year’s finalist performance, probably said it better than anyone –

“Watching these young people perform on stage restores my spirit.”

The feeling was mutual.

Each year The Music Center welcomes thousands of high school students to participate in our Spotlight program, which culminates with a final performance in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  These bright and talented students audition in categories of ballet, non-classical dance, jazz instrumental, classical instrumental, non-classical voice, classical voice, two-dimensional art and photography.  Everyone that auditions gets valuable written feedback from the judges for their discipline.

The process is more of a workshop, than a competition, offering students a chance to learn about the business of  having careers in the arts and hone their auditioning skills.  The judges then work to select a group of semi-finalists in each category, who participate in master classes with some of the best artists in their field.  Finally, after another round of auditions, two finalists are chosen in each category and, as you can imagine, they are all extremely talented young people!

This past Saturday marked the 26th Annual Spotlight Awards and it was just as inspiring and thrilling as ever!  The performance was free and open to the public, and anyone who was lucky enough to grab a seat in the packed house was treated to an extraordinary display of talent and promise.  Plus, it was clear to see that all the finalists were having the time of their lives on that stage!

Spotlight Awards Finalist Madeline Woo Spotlight Awards Finalist Ryan Roberts Spotlight Awards Finalist Nicole IshimaruSpotlight Awards Finalist Jamael Dean Spotlight Awards Finalist Erick Chong

The Spotlight Awards is just one of many programs The Music Center fosters to help bring the arts to young people everywhere, with the goal of not only helping talented students become successful artists, but  also successful people.  Many former Music Center Spotlight Awards finalists have gone on to have incredibly successful careers on and off the stage, but regardless of where their careers take them, they always have a special home at The Music Center as a Spotlight Alum.

Spotlight Awards Grant Grayson Bower Spotlight Awards Finalist Brett Schaffer Spotlight Awards Finalist Bella Porter Spotlight Awards Finalist Abbigail Roque Spotlight Awards Finalist Aaron Shaw Spotlight Awards Finalist Nora ClementeSpotlight Awards Finalist Amanda Anderson

2014 Finalists:

Grant Grayson Bower – Non Classical Voice Grand Prize Winner

Bella Porter – Non Classical Voice Runner Up

Ryan Roberts – Classical Instrumental Grand Prize Winner

Erick Chong – Classical Instrumental Runner Up

Nicole Ishimaru – Non-classical Dance Grand Prize Winner

Abbigail Roque – Non-classical Dance Runner Up

Aaron Shaw – Jazz Instrumental Grand Prize Winner

Jamael Dean – Jazz Instrumental Runner Up

Madeline Woo – Ballet Grand Prize Finalist

Nora Clemente – Ballet Runner Up

Brett Schaffer – Classical Voice Grand Prize Winner

Amanda Anderson – Classical Voice Runner Up

Dayeon Han – Two-Dimensional Art Grand Prize Winner

Steve Sung Eun Kim – Two-Dimensional Art Runner Up

Angela Francis – Photography Grand Prize Winner

Sophia Arriola-Gibson – Photography Runner Up


All Photos by Paul Antico

18,000 Fifth Graders Take Over The Music Center!

Every spring, we Southern Californians have certain events that mark the changing of the season – the poppies blooming, the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano…Coachella.  And of course, The Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival at The Music Center! (Trust us, if you’re a 5th grade teacher in LA, this event definitely marks the coming of spring!)Blue Ribbon Children's Festival 5

For the next three days, The Music Center welcomes 18,000 fifth graders along with their teachers and parent volunteers, to come and celebrate dance, perform on the plaza, and see a live performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.  This year, the lucky kids get to see a preview of Paul Taylor Dance Company, before their public performances begin this weekend.  Celebrating it’s 44th year, you can see how this annual festival has become a highlight of the spring season for all of here at 135 Grand Avenue….

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Stay tuned to our Instagram and Twitter for more updates on the festival over the next couple days!