With talent shows all the rage on television, it seems about time that Santa Clara drew the first-ever Bay Area Youth Talent Search. Starting Arts’ opening production bodes well for next year’s. The definitely not run-of-the-mill showcase for talented youth took place in the Santa Clara Convention Center on Feb. 16 and the talent and stars truly shined on stage.
The competition was divided into two categories of individuals or groups, eight to 12 year olds and 13 to 18 year olds. Each group was competing for cash prizes with $2,000 at stake as the first place prize. All totaled, $8,000 in cash prizes were awarded. Since all 20 competitors made strong cases for themselves, the judges were confronted with a difficult decision.
But, the impressive roster doing the judging were up for it: Olympic Gold Medalist figure skater Brian Boitano, Hollywood film and television actress Mandy Levin, Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson; and California Youth Symphony Music Director Leo Eylar. Jona Denz-Hamilton from KBAY took on the role of Master of Ceremonies.
After each performance, the judges asked questions and offered useful observations, pointing out the young performers’ poise and confidence. One judge asked singer Ashley Wilson (“Nothing” from A Chorus Line) “Is this a typo? Are you really 10 years old?” and 13-year-old Camryn Heinkel’s delivery of “Good Morning Baltimore” drew praise of her “great range and a wonderfully expressive voice.”
At the other end of the scale, the judges were sometimes quite detailed: “It seemed that in the beginning you were very nervous and apprehensive but you stuck it out and during the song, you found your voice and your confidence grew and then your voice really started to shine.”
The judges also encouraged the young artists to explain why they chose their material. Eleven-year old Nevin Richards explained his choice of “Parto, Parto” from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito: “My singing teacher suggested I sing opera to improve my skills.” Alyssa Riley (13) chose “The Climb” because “It’s a really hard song to sing and I wanted to showcase my vocal abilities.”
While the judges tallied the scores for each category, the audience was treated to two professional performances: a tap-dancing demonstration by John Kloss, Director of Stepology, a San Francisco-based non-profit focused on the need for the preservation and promotion of tap dance, and an amazing South Bay Circus Arts juggling and gymnastics demonstration.
The evening’s winners and their awards were:
In the eight to 12 year old category:
1st place: Chloe Allen (10): $2,000
2nd place: Nevin Richards (11): $1,000
3rd place: Samantha Bell (12): $750
In the 13 to 18 year old category:
1st place: Maddie Bartolome (14): $2,000
2nd place: Dream Girls – Eva Zakula (16) and Catherine Luckenbach (16): $1,000
3rd place: Swetha Tummala (13): $750
Fan Favorite: Maddie Bartolome (14): $500
For more information on Starting Arts, visit www.StartingArts.com.
The 96,000 Campaign for Arts Education
With a mission to promote arts education in public schools, Santa Clara-based Starting Arts has set the bar high. The 96,000 Campaign for Arts Education has a simple and straightforward goal: to raise $96,000 by June 30 to keep the arts alive in the Bay Area. So far, over $16,000 has been contributed.
The idea behind the 96,000 came from Starting Arts’ Dream Team that most recently produced, “In The Heights,” according to Starting Arts Executive Director Ann Watts. “One of the songs in the show is, ‘96,000′ and in the song, the actors tell what they would do with $96,000.” From that suggestion, the 96,000 campaign was born.
To run a program like Starting Arts isn’t easy, especially with its annual growth but the results of the group’s efforts are spectacular. High quality shows incur hefty costs and every dollar raised helps.
For example, $5,000 helps build the set for one show; $3,500 secures the Rights and Royalties for one production; $2,500 provides costumes for a cast of 50 performers; $1,500 prints programs for one production; $500 provides a scholarship for one student to attend Starting Arts’ Summer Production Camp; $200 provides a scholarship for a student to participate in one Starting Arts production and $195 provides a scholarship for a student to attend an after school visual arts, music or dance class.
“Starting Arts believes fervently that financially supporting arts education is a low-cost, high-return investment in our community,” Watts says. “Contributions help educate the next generation of artists, audiences, creative thinkers and leaders. If we truly believe in the value of our arts education, we need to stop talking and start funding.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.startingarts.com/96000campaign or call 408-492-9022.