Alumni Check-In: Cassie Mandalou

Alumni Check-In: Cassie Mandalou

As part of YAA's Alumni Check-In Series, we ask Cassie Mandalou ('15) how she's doing in her Sophomore year at college.

Current School: Shepherd University

What have you been up to recently?: I'm in my second year of college. Still singing! I spent my summer working for a girl scout sleep away camp. It was very life changing. I learned a few things about myself and it will help me move forward in the next few years. I miss YAA and hope to come to the next performance.

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.: I learned that I had alot more confidence then I thought I did. I learned to expand my vocal range and that really helped me get into college in the first place. If I want taught how to expand my rang the way it is now, I dont think I would have gotten into the music program I'm in. I thank Rolando and Reenie for that, you both were a big part of that. Thank you YAA!

Thanks for your awesome update, Cassie! If you're an alum, you could be highlighted in this series as well. Send us your update at this form.


Best of 2016: Children of Eden!

That's right! DC Metro Theater Arts, the area's most widely read blog about the performing arts honored our production of Children of Eden with various Best of 2016 nods!

Children of Eden was named one of the Best PROFESSIONAL Productions of 2016, alongside professional productions at The Kennedy Center, Signature Theater and Arena Stage!

In addition, three of our young artists were named in DCMTA's Best Performances in Musicals in PROFESSIONAL Theaters in 2016. Congratulations to Ari-Goldbloom Helzner, Julia Fanzeres, and Bobby Gallagher!

Last but not least, congratulations to Guest Mentor, Noah Himmelstein, who was honored by DCMTA for his direction of our production of Children of Eden in the Best Direction in Musicals in PROFESSIONAL Theaters in 2016 category.

We couldn't be more proud of all of the people involved! Click the links above to read the complete lists.

Alumni Check-In: Ari Goldbloom-Helzner

Alumni Check-In: Ari Goldbloom-Helzner

As part of YAA's Alumni Check-In Series, we ask Ari Goldbloom-Helzner ('16) how he's doing in his Freshman year at college. Oh, and check out this great Bethesda Magazine article he was featured in back in June.

Current School: Brown University

What have you been up to recently?:  I'm a freshman at Brown University and am currently taking courses in Math, Music Theory, Voice and Playwriting. My passion lies with Math and Music, though I’ve been particularly inspired by my Playwriting course this semester. I’ve written a number of short plays and am in the process of writing my first musical, which I hope to eventually produce at Brown. I also applied for and was selected to join the board of Musical Forum, Brown University’s student-run musical theatre company.

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.:  I've learned so much from my years at YAA and am extremely grateful for the mentorship of all the guest artists and teachers, particularly Rolando. I use the vocal techniques I've learned from him every time I study a new song, audition for a part, or perform in a show. He taught me how to analyze the details in a song and learn music quickly for an audition. He also gave me the confidence to sing in new styles and try new things with my voice that I hadn’t tried before. This past Fall, I auditioned for and was cast in my first show at college -- I played the role of Mike in A Chorus Line in November.  

Anything else you want to say?: My experiences at YAA were fundamental in helping inform the choices I make now – in my voice studies, in my compositions, and even in my playwriting. When I participate in a master class, an audition, or a juried recital here at college, I can’t help but draw from what I’ve learned from Rolando, Kris, and other YAA mentors with whom I’ve had the honor to work. 

Thanks for your awesome update, Ari! If you're an alum, you could be highlighted in this series as well. Send us your update at this form.

Alumnus Update: Wesley Diener

Third-year music student Wesley Diener plans to pursue opera professionally after graduation. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Third-year music student Wesley Diener plans to pursue opera professionally after graduation. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

We are so proud of our YAA alumnus, Wesley Diener ('13). He was featured in University of Virginia's UVAToday Magazine's recent article, "One Aria at a Time, Third-Year Student Builds Professional Opera Career," where he speaks about his love of music and his hopes for the future. 

Read the full article here and comment below to congratulate Wesley!

Matching Donations on #GivingTuesday!

Dear Friends,

On this Giving Tuesday, can you help us double our donations!

Giving Tuesday is a nationwide day of people giving back to causes that touch their lives. If Young Artists of America at Strathmore has been meaningful to you and your family, please consider donating today, at whatever level you can.

Thanks to three generous donors who have offered to match each contribution up to $20,000, even small gifts will double in size and make a big impact on YAA's programming!

What's more...Your donation will help take YAA from "Stage to Screen" in 2017!

On March 12 at Strathmore, YAA will perform a world premiere, The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice in Concert -- an homage to the legendary lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess, and The Lion King -- devised and directed by London director Hugh Wooldridge and including the special participation of Sir Tim Rice himself!

One week later, YAA will tape a one-hour version of The Circle of Life for PBS's Maryland Public Television (MPT), which will air later in 2017, in living rooms like yours throughout the Mid-Atlantic!

This collaboration with MPT is an extraordinary honor and opportunity for YAA to reach a vast, new audience. However, it comes at a greater financial cost than any project in YAA’s history.

Instead of raising our tuition,
we are asking our friends to…

Help take YAA from

We have set an ambitious goal
to raise $40,000 by the end of 2016.

"STAGE TO SCREEN" SUPPORTING MEMBERSHIPS begin at just $25, and all donations are tax-deductible. 

Your donation will support both the stage and screen productions of The Circle of Life, plus:

YAA's tuition assistance fund
Free Masterclasses with nationally-recognized artists from Broadway and beyond
The quality productions, summer intensives, and classes you've come to expect from YAA

Since our humble beginning in 2011, YAA has reached more than 500 students and 10,000 audience members in our community.

If you or your child has been touched by a recent YAA program, we hope that you will consider a donation as we launch our students’ talents from "Stage to Screen"...from Bethesda to the entire Mid-Atlantic region!!


Rolando Sanz, Producing Artistic Director

Kristofer Sanz, Music Director
Lisa Larragoite, Executive Director
Young Artists of America at Strathmore


Alumnus Update: Cameron Mitchell

Cameron Mitchell, YAA Alum ('15) and current Ithaca College sophomore

Cameron Mitchell, YAA Alum ('15) and current Ithaca College sophomore


We are so proud of our YAA alumnus, Cameron Mitchell ('15). He was featured in PLAYBILL's recent article, "Dear Freshmen: Advice from Sophomore Theatre Majors to the Incoming Class," which interviewed students from some of the best known college theatre programs about their tips for a successful first year.

Here's what he had to say:

Breathe. Take your first year of a BFA program one step at a time. Remember that you are not only a theatre student but a college student, and that it is okay to have a balanced college experience. Think of sleep as your best friend. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and no matter how hard it gets, remember why you chose to be a theatre major in the first place. 

YAA - From Stage to Screen!

Maryland Public Television to air and produce Young Artists of America at Strathmore's Winter Production with Tim Rice.

Alumni Check-In: Hayley Abramowitz

As part of YAA's Alumni Check-In Series, we ask Hayley Abramowitz ('13) how she's doing in her Junior year at college.

Current School: University of Maryland, College Park

What have you been up to recently?: Over the summer, I spent five weeks in Arezzo with Oberlin in Italy, singing in opera scenes and in Puccini's Suor Angelica. I'm now in my junior year at the University of Maryland, pursuing a dual degree in voice performance and music education, and gearing up for a recital in May with another YAA alum, Noah Calderon!

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.: When I was singing in Phantom, I remember feeling my heart soar onstage for the first time. YAA taught me that not only is that feeling possible, it's something I should be seeking every day for the rest of my life. I also learned to trust myself - to trust my own voice to do its job and to love the art that I'm lucky enough to be a part of.

YAA was also the first place I ever really experienced opera. I didn't know anything about the art form at all, but at the Summer Institute in 2013, we would watch opera every day - Boheme, Traviata, you name it. I fell in love immediately, and I haven't looked back since.

Anything else you want to say?: I’m so unbelievably grateful to YAA for opening my eyes to an entirely new world - a world I’m lucky enough to live in now. There are days in my lessons when I still remember advice Rolando and Kris gave me five (wow) years ago in Phantom rehearsals, and I’m still singing the songs we learned at the Summer Institute. YAA is such an amazing foundation for classical singing and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of it.

Thanks for your awesome update, Hayley! If you're an alum, you could be highlighted in this series as well. Send us your update at this form.

Notes from the Maestro: Kris on Rehearsal

After a week of auditions we are extremely excited with all of the new and returning talent that we have this year for YAA’s production of Wizard of Oz. On Thursday, September 22nd we began the rehearsal process of Arlen and Harburg’s beautiful and lush score.

Both Rolando and I are greatly looking forward to working with some of the area’s most talented and passionate young artists as we begin our journey towards musical artistry and excellence into a world where “Dreams Really do come true!”

May We Introduce...

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With the EXCITING ADDITION of our newest program - YAAJunior for middle school students - comes the introduction of a new team member - Paul Heinemann!

Paul is known for his tremendous gift of connecting with middle school adolescents, and his energy and enthusiasm have inspired his students to achieve at high levels. He has been invited to serve as a guest conductor for numerous middle school honors choruses as well as a guest clinician and adjudicator for festivals throughout Maryland. Most recently, he finished his 9th and final year as the Middle School Honors Chorus director for Montgomery County. Additionally, Paul has also served as an artistic and musical director at the middle and high school levels at Kensington Arts Theatre.

Paul is the choral director at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, MD where he has taught for 17 years and grown the program to five school day choirs. He was recognized with the Montgomery County Gazette’s Favorite teacher award in 2011, and his choral program was awarded the ‘Program of Excellence’ award from the Maryland Music Educators Association in 2012. Paul’s choirs have consistently earned superior ratings at county, state and interstate festivals and competitions and they have performed as a demonstration chorus for multiple MMEA conferences. 

Welcome to the YAA family, Paul! 

Vote for Us for Best of Bethesda!

VOTE FOR YOUNG ARTISTS OF AMERICA!  Help Young Artists of America win Best of Bethesda 2017 by voting for us before September 22nd in the following categories:

- Children’s Theater

- Summer Camp (Day)

- Summer Camp (Overnight)

If you love our programming, help us get recognized!

YAA Featured on Voice of America

Voice of America, the official US broadcasting institution, featured our 2016 Summer Program. We are thrilled to share the piece with you, which can be viewed below. 

Featured in the piece are Young Artists of America students Ari Goldbloom-Helzner and Amanda Yuan as well as Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Rolando Sanz. The piece was produced by June Soh and features footage from four/ten media.

You can read the full article here.  

Voice of America report on Young Artists of America's Musical Theatre Intensive Summer Camp August 2016

You can also see that we were featured on the front page of the VOA website. This is viewed by people all over the globe.

Young Artists of America on Front Page of VOA

Welcome to the new YAA website!

Welcome to the new YAA website!

August greetings from our YAA offices at the Mansion at Strathmore. Everything on campus here is very quiet during the month of August as we all are hard at work planning our upcoming season.

We're so excited to share our new website with you! Please have a look around and learn about all the exciting offerings we have for young performers in our various programs!

We will be updating this blog with new information about our upcoming 2015-2016 season, as well as introducing you to our newest YAA team members.

Have a great rest of your summer, and we can't wait to get started in a little less that a month on rehearsals for our fall production!!

- The YAA Team