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USC Thornton partnership in the spotlight

USC Thornton Partnership in the Spotlight
From left, Mark Slavkin of the Music Center, USC Thornton School of Music assistant dean Phillip Placenti, USC Thornton dean Robert A. Cutietta and associate professor Cynthia Munzer

The USC Thornton School of Music and the Spotlight program of the Music Center of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County announced a new partnership to support young musicians and advance the cause of music education in Southern California.

The Spotlight program, an educational branch of the Music Center, reaches out to high school students of all talent levels working in the visual and performing arts.

Now in its 24th year, the program provides arts training by professional artists and awards more than $100,000 in scholarships for teens. USC Thornton, which celebrated its 125th year in 2009 and is the oldest arts institution in Los Angeles, is Spotlight’s sole partner in higher education.

The partnership is spearheaded by Cynthia Munzer, associate professor of vocal arts at USC Thornton; Phillip Placenti, assistant dean for admission and student affairs at the school; Jeri Gaile, Spotlight director; and Mark Slavkin, vice president for education at the Music Center.

“We are thrilled to have established this partnership with Spotlight,” Placenti said. “Not only is it a tremendous opportunity for us to personally connect with the most talented young musicians in Southern California, but we also have the privilege of joining forces with a like-minded organization that is leading the way in reaching students with the beauty and power of music.”

Added Slavkin: “In light of our shared commitment to supporting young musicians, this is the perfect opportunity for the Music Center to work with USC.”

As part of the mutually beneficial collaboration, USC Thornton faculty will help lead educational programs for Spotlight students.

In January, the school hosted semifinalists from the Spotlight Awards at concerts performed by the USC Thornton Symphony, the USC Thornton Opera program and the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra. Spotlight students joined USC Thornton faculty, staff and student performers for dinner and got an inside look at the performances.

USC Thornton’s commitment to developing young musicians extends to many aspects of the school’s activities.

As part of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival in March, teenage cellists from across the country will take part in a free workshop for young cellists. A select few students will participate in the festival’s closing concert, joining more than 100 fellow cellists on stage at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“Our collaboration with Spotlight is a natural choice, given our rich history together,” Munzer said. “The past and continuing participation of our faculty in Spotlight master classes, adjudications and as panelists attests to Spotlight’s high regard for USC Thornton. Our desire is to expand these interactions, creating more opportunities for our talented students.”

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USC Thornton partnership in the spotlight

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