MPT presents Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice on June 1

MPT presents Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice on June 1

Program features performances by 150 members of Bethesda-based student group

The broadcast premiere of Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice, airs on Maryland Public Television (MPT) Thursday, June 1 at 8 p.m.  Filmed recently at MPT’s Owings Mills studios, the program features symphonic, dance, and vocal performances of lyricist Sir Tim Rice’s musical theater and movie hits by the Bethesda-based group, Young Artists of America (YAA). YAA consists of students from more than 80 schools in Maryland, northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. The one-hour television special includes the talents of some 150 area students, and is hosted by Sir Tim Rice.

Devised and directed for Young Artists of America by London theater director Hugh Wooldridge (Chess in Concert, Royal Albert Hall; An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner, Lincoln Center; The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) – friend and collaborator of Sir Tim Rice – the broadcast offers performances of 12 iconic songs, many of which earned Rice Tony Awards and Oscars. The program also includes segments during which Rice speaks about his career, his songs and musical collaborators, and the work of Young Artists of America.

Featured are songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musicals Joseph and the Amazing Technicolorâ Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita; Chess, with lyrics by Rice and music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA; Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, with songs by Alan Menken and Rice; and The Lion King, a Sir Elton John and Rice collaboration.

The program also offers a segment taking viewers backstage with YAA as performers prepared for the MPT broadcast. The segment is narrated by YAA vocalist, Emily Reed, a Baltimore School for the Arts student, who sings Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from Evita and Nobody’s Side from Chess during the program.

Young Artists of America (YAA) at Strathmore was founded in 2011 by brothers Rolando and Kristofer Sanz, who have created the premier training organization for the region’s young performing artists.  It is the only known program in the nation where students receive mentorship and individualized instruction from renowned artists to perform fully orchestrated works of musical theater.  Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth, Grammy Award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, and The Bridges of Madison County composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown have mentored YAA’s students in recent years.  The organization’s mission is to provide gifted and committed students high quality performance and educational opportunities in a nurturing and professional environment.

Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice airs on MPT-HD Thursday, June 1 at 8 p.m., and repeats on Friday, June 2 at 1:45 a.m.


We Have to Ask: YAA Cellist, Jack Zhao

We Have to Ask: YAA Cellist, Jack Zhao

YAA cellist, Jack Zhao had a lot of pressure on him last month. He was performing his solo in front of hot lights, cameras and a lot of eyes in a professional television studio. He was part of the YAA performers who will be featured on Maryland Public Television's upcoming premiere broadcast of Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice on June 1st at 8:00pm. We had a chance to sit down with this Winston Churchill High School senior as we had quite a few questions that we had to ask!

What was going through your mind during your big solo, "You Must Love Me," when the camera's were rolling?

I remember telling myself to relax over and over again, and to try not to mess up. I was honestly just thrilled that I had a full solo to play! I was surrounded by so many talented cellists, and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity I was given.

How was performing in a TV studio different than performing in a full theater?

Performing for a TV recording allows you the opportunity to redo things until they are totally perfect, as opposed to the one-time-deal of performing for a full theater. The pressure is still there, however, (because you don't want) to keep the rest of the orchestra and singers waiting for your perfect solo!

What is your favorite thing about playing cello?

I love how easily I'm able to express my feelings while playing the cello. There isn't any struggle to find the right words - I just play what I'm feeling and the emotions shine through.

Do you enjoy accompanying singers? If so, how come?

I really do enjoy accompanying singers because I feel they add a great deal of depth to a piece. They have such a different tone and sound from any instrument, and I think, like in the case of You Must Love Me, that they can make something feel more complete.

Watch Jack's solo and the rest of this premiere broadcast on Maryland Public Television, June 1st at 8:00pm!

A Sit-Down with Scholarship Winner: Jillian Tate

A Sit-Down with Scholarship Winner: Jillian Tate

Jillian Tate was not expecting to win the Samuel Waters Memorial Award on the Strathmore Stage at The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice performance, but she did. We sat down with her to hear more about how she plans on using it, and her hopes for the future.

Congrats on your win. Were you expecting it?

Thank you! I was not expecting to win a scholarship at all. It was an absolute shock, but I was incredibly grateful. 

Do you know what you will be doing next year? Tell us a bit more about your plans and how you expect to use the scholarship.

Next year I plan to begin college pursuing an undergraduate degree in vocal performance. I'm very excited to say I've been admitted to multiple schools with great vocal programs, although I haven't decided on a school yet.  Being a musician is an expensive profession, so I plan to use the scholarship towards purchasing a laptop for my studies. 

Tell us about your experiences with YAA. 

In my first YAA show, I was cast as Andrea in their Summer Intensive production of Once on This Island.  It was a great program where I was challenged, developed strong friendships, and strengthened my skills. Since then I've performed with YAA as Emma in Jekyll & Hyde in Concert, Glinda in The Wizard of Oz in Concert, and was a soloist in The Circle of Life

What has been your memory from your experiences at YAA?

From my experience, YAA is a very welcoming and fair organization. It's an organization where talented students who are serious about music can be involved in a professional production while having fun in the process. Not only have I gotten to work with professionals in the business, but I've also met some of my best friends through YAA. 

We Have to Ask with Young Artists of America, Joelle Walker

We Have to Ask with Young Artists of America, Joelle Walker

We sat down with Susan Herzog Memorial Award Winner and YAA Instrumentalist, Joelle Walker, to ask all the things "We Have to Ask." She was presented the award on the stage of The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice, our spring performance.

Joelle Walker

Congrats on your win. Were you expecting it?

Thank you, I was not expecting it at all. I was actually speechless. 

Do you know what you will be doing next year? Tell us a bit more about your plans and how you expect to use the scholarship.

I'm going to the University of Pennsylvania next year so I'm definitely going to use the scholarship towards my education. I'm also going to play in the Penn Symphony while I'm there.

Tell us about your experiences with YAA. 

I've been in YAA since 9th grade, so its been really cool to watch it change and grow over the past four years. I always enjoy the repertoire and leave every concert humming my favorite tunes. 

What has been your memory from your experiences at YAA?

I just love how everyone comes together bringing their passion for music to create an amazing show. And I'm grateful to have been apart of this organization for the past four years.


Notes from the Maestro: Kris's Music Picks

Notes from the Maestro: Kris's Music Picks

We sat down with our Music Director, Kristofer Sanz, to chat about his favorite music and what he recommends to his students. 

What kind of music do you think kids who want to be in the YAA orchestra should be listening to?

What we do here at YAA is a very specialized category. For our orchestra kids, a lot of them play with other classical youth orchestras, and so they may be listening primarily to classical music. But what's neat about YAA is that these guys, whether they know it or not from the beginning...they're all closet musical theatre fans! There's something about what YAA does that drew them to us. I think it's very important to them to listen to the works in the musical theater genre that have excellent orchestrations. They always have the poppier stuff that they're listening to, like Wicked or Hamilton. But there's also a lot of sweeping orchestral material that they don't necessarily know about. That's part of YAA educational mission, to introduce them to this vast repertoire. It's really pretty music. And when they hear it, they get turned on by the type of sound quality they get to produce in our orchestra. It's very different than what they do in a strictly symphonic setting.

If you had to pick three shows that you had to recommend, what would they be?

To get specific, anything that was orchestrated by some of theatre's great orchestrators, like Robert Russell Bennett, William David Brohn or Jonathan Tunick. So Showboat, South Pacific, as well as all the Rogers and Hammerstein works have a lot of sweeping orchestral parts. And also a lot of the new stuff that's actually been written specifically with a symphonic orchestration in mind. Often, by the time a show is taken to Broadway, it's been truncated down to a smaller pit band. So for me, when we're looking for a show to produce at YAA, we study resources like or Tams Whitmark, the companies that license these great shows. You can actually go show by show, and they list the orchestrations available. So I will actually go through, and if something looks like it's full and lush, I will listen to it. And nine times out of 10, it is usually a beautiful score. We are also at the point where we are having to commission orchestrations to accommodate our unusually large orchestra. What a great problem to have!

So add Rogers and Hammerstein to your playlist?

It's very important. It's from a time when full orchestral sounds were still part of the musical theatre landscape.

Read more about Kris and his Orchestral Program at YAA.


Alumni Check-In: Kathryn Bailey

Alumni Check-In: Kathryn Bailey

We checked in with YAA alumnus, Kathryn Bailey ('14), to chat about her Junior year at JMU.

Current School: James Madison University

What's your news!?: I am currently in my third year studying Vocal Music Education at James Madison University. I am the President of the American Choral Directors Association at JMU, and I am the Director of a small children's choir in the Shenandoah Valley. I am currently looking into exploring the entrepreneurship/administrative opportunities in the Music Education field!

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.: YAA was the part of my high school experience that challenged me to explore myself as a performer, as a musician, and as a human being. My current solo practice techniques were acquired from YAA, and my love for both opera and musical theater was heightened through my various experiences with the company. On top of all that, I made friendships that I can confidently say will last forever. I am from Virginia, so YAA was an incredible opportunity that brought me into the Maryland theater scene, and eventually connected me with other opportunities after I graduated high school. Being a part of the Young Artists of America family is something that more and more people around the VA/DC/MD area are aware of, and respect. I am so proud to have been involved with such a caring, supportive, and hard-working company, and I wish it all the best in the future.

A Sit-Down with Scholarship Award Winner, Zoe Lee

A Sit-Down with Scholarship Award Winner, Zoe Lee

From The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice in Concert stage at Strathmore, Zoe Lee heard her name being called. She had been announced as the recipient of the Susan Herzog Memorial Award. We sat down with Zoe to ask her about this experience and what her plans are for the future. 

Congrats on your win! Were you expecting it?

No, it was completely unexpected. I’ve only done three shows and one summer intensive, and there are so many talented people in this program. The caliber of the students that participate in YAA is just incredible, and really, they are all just as deserving of this award.


Do you know what you will be doing next year? Tell us a bit more about your plans and how you expect to use the scholarship.

Right now, I’m not entirely sure where I’ll be going to college. I’m still waiting on a few schools to get back to me, but I will most likely be attending the University of Michigan – College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.  In LSA, I’ll have the opportunity to take a wide range of classes, and I’m thinking about majoring in biochemistry with a minor in music.  So I won’t be stepping far away from my love of music and musical theater. I’ll probably use the scholarship to help out with the cost of books.

Tell us about your experiences with YAA. 

When I first auditioned for YAA, they were casting Jekyll and Hyde. Unfortunately, I had gotten cast in a major role in my school’s play, and so I couldn’t do YAA. The second time I auditioned, I was cast as an understudy for one of the snakes in Children of Eden and I’ve been hooked ever since! Everyone is incredibly talented and gives so much effort to put on the best show possible.  YAA has taught me a lot about vocal technique, professionalism, and work ethic. I’m really lucky to have been part of such a great program.

What has been your memory from your experiences at YAA?

I’ve met the most amazing people during YAA. I’m a pretty shy person, but everyone is so open. Over the summer, I was able to get to know a lot of the people who do the shows during the spring and fall, so this past show, it’s been really fun to just talk with everyone during the breaks.  I’ve become friends with many YAA students, and we keep in contact through social media, and even get together outside of YAA. 

Notes from the Maestro: Kris Talks Orchestra for Music Theatre

Notes from the Maestro: Kris Talks Orchestra for Music Theatre

Kristofer Sanz, our Music Director, sits down to talk about the importance of orchestra musicians collaborating with vocalists and dancers. NEW - Our Summer Intensives welcome instrumentalists this year for the first time ever. Registration is open now! More here

A lot of the students in our orchestra come from symphonic backgrounds. So why should they bother to learn about musical theatre when they may think that they won't necessarily pay this repertoire in the professional world?

As a musician, if you're going to continue in the field and go out and do this, it's important that whenever a gig or opportunity comes along, you have to take it. Being able to play any genre, you are a much more valuable musician...rather than just being a person who is just a classical violinist, or a classical cellist, or a classical pianist. You have to be able to play in all the musical styles.

So is there anything that you have to do differently when you are a musician in an orchestra playing with vocalists, any compensation you have to make?

I actually believe it's a lot more difficult to play in this type of setting with vocalists and dancers than to play a purely symphonic work. When you add vocalists, you add a whole new level of organic musical matter to what is going on. The orchestra musicians have to learn how to breathe with the singers and how to wait for the singers. It's also a different type of conducting for me. And it's a different type of watching the conductor for the orchestral students.

How is it a different type of conducting for you?

When you do symphonic music, you could basically start the musicians and technically step back, and it would just go. They're so well-rehearsed that it would work by itself 90% of the time. When you add a singer, however, there's new communication needed. Usually in this type of setting, there's a singer either in front of you, or behind you, or above you. There always needs to be some kind of coordination between what the singer is doing to the conductor, and then to the orchestra. So the conductor acts as a kind of channel that connects the orchestra to the singers.


We Have to Ask with Young Artist of America, Claire Hebeisen

We Have to Ask with Young Artist of America, Claire Hebeisen

Young Artist of America, Claire Hebeisen

This is the first in our "We Have to Ask" blog series which will provide insight into our performances from the performers themselves. Kicking it off with gusto is violinist, Claire Hebeisen.

Tell us about your preparation of The Circle of Life

In addition to practicing my individual part, I did a lot of listening while following along with the score. This enabled me to practice how I would lead in rehearsal. My sister, who was in the YAA chorus, helped me write in several line cues before the first rehearsal with the singers so I would be absolutely sure where I was in long stretches of rest.

How often would you practice at home? 

I would usually practice the YAA music close to two hours a week and then three hours for the weeks leading up to the show and the recording.

What are your plans for the future in music?

I will attend music school or conservatory next year. (The school is yet to be determined.) I am very passionate about chamber music and would love to form a professional chamber group. I intend to audition for orchestras after graduate school and to begin a private studio. Thanks to YAA, I have also considered auditioning to play in the pit for Broadway shows.

What's your favorite thing about YAA?

YAA gave me the opportunity to perform some incredible music that I would never have been introduced to otherwise. I also appreciate the supportive environment of YAA and the combination of its fast paced rehearsals and attention to detail.

What have you learned from Maestro Kris Sanz?

Mr. Sanz helped me to become a good leader. By giving me so much responsibility and expecting a very high level of performance from us every week, I felt that he taught me what it takes to be a proficient concertmaster. Under Mr. Sanz, I also learned many things about what it is like to be a professional musician. I am very grateful to him for all he has given me in my years as part of YAA.

What was your favorite song in The Circle of Life to perform?

If I Can't Love Her was my favorite. I fell in love with the colors and the lush melodies in the strings as well as the incredible vocal part. It was a very entertaining and emotional piece to play.

What's your favorite kind of music to listen to?

I listen to classical violin and piano works, most musical theater, and pop/rock songs from the 80s.

What's your favorite kind of music to play?

I love to play Romantic music, especially violin sonatas and show pieces from the time period. My favorite orchestral music to play is anything composed by Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, or Mahler.

Alumni Check-In: Jordana Meyer

Alumni Check-In: Jordana Meyer

We sat down with YAA alum Jordana Meyer ('16) to talk about her Freshman year at NYU.

Current School: New York University

What's your news!?: New York is a dream! I'm a semester into my freshman year, soon to declare an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing, and a double minor in Social and Public Policy, and Music. I got to perform with the NYU Chorale last semester and hope to join the Jazz Choir this semester. Since I was last with YAA, I also interned with a great social justice nonprofit called Operation Understanding and I worked on some voter registration and civil rights campaigns.

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.: In addition to the stellar vocal training, YAA (especially Rolando) taught me the value of professionalism. In rehearsals, not a moment was wasted; every direction was constructive and was delivered with respect. New York is certainly an intimidating and unfamiliar place to audition, but I know I have the training and the confidence to put myself out there.

Are you an alumnus? Want to share your story with us? Fill out this form

Aces from ACES!

Aces from ACES!

We were so honored to have students from the Montgomery County ACES program at our world premiere of The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice on March 12th. ACES - Achieving Collegiate Excellence & Success - is a free college support program for high school students in Montgomery County, MD, as part of a partnership of Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove. YAA's Associate Director, Gina DiMedio Marrazza is cultivating an“Arts & Culture” program where generous organizations like YAA, Strathmore, Kennedy Center, National Phil, donate 25-50 tickets to kids in this program to attend top notch performances. The students pictured were from Einstein High School. Their coach, Amani Dadzie, was present as well. The students said they were amazed at the performance and adored being in the glorious Strathmore Music Center to experience it!

Learn more about this program here




WATCH: Final Days from 2016 Summer Intensive!

It may be snowing right now, but summer is right around the corner. We sat down to talk with Terry Eberhardt, our Summer Intensive Director (and Associate Artistic Director), about what he's most looking forward to this summer. Our Daytime Academy and Overnight Conservatory are both open for registration now - 6th graders to college freshman welcome! Learn more here.


What are you most excited about for Summer 2017?

Terry Eberhardt, Summer Intensive Director 

Terry Eberhardt, Summer Intensive Director 

I am thrilled about the line up of shows and the additional staff. I have wanted to direct In the Heights for a long time and I've never done YAGMCB. I am very excited that my good friend, Garry Tiller will be joining us from Hawaii. Garry was one of the original members of the team and relocated to Hawaii before our first season, Garry brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team and will be a welcomed addition to the family.


What's one of your favorite stories from past Summer Intensives?

Adventure park last year was really special! We had several students who had major fears of heights (no pun intended). Many of those students were encouraged and supported by other students to tackle their fears and try zip lining. I love that our camp allows students the skills and tools to first be supportive of each other as human beings but even further to step out of their comfort zone. We try to promote and inspire students to try new things and step out of their comfort zone. It is remarkable that some of our students were able to take big risks on stage and go even further and overcome some of their own personal fears.


Tell us something new about Summer Intensives this year.

This summer we add YAA Jr. to put on Your a Good Man Charlie Brown. We are also adding an instrumental program that promises to provide incredible experiences for instrumentalist. The addition of these two programs will provide a new an improved vibe to the summer, we will hopefully create a larger pool of artists that are hungry for additional training in the summer in a rigorous but safe environment. We hope to spread our love for the process of making art to more students throughout our region. 


Tell us a bit more about In the Heights and why you selected it.

In the Heights is a show that I have wanted to work on since it came to Broadway in 1999. It continues our theme of musicals that are a little edgy and not accessible to all High Schools. It provides a depth of roles and opportunities for many students to perform in roles, but more importantly it has an incredible ensemble presence. Everyone in this show will feel like a star! But most importantly it provides many opportunities for me to add some riffs!

Learn more about our Summer Intensive experiences and register here.



On Sunday, from The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice stage, we announced the lucky winners of our raffle for two pairs of tickets to Hamilton the Musical on Broadway. The winners were...





JoAnn Chin and Janet Mitchell!!!!





Both were ushers at Strathmore who just happened to buy tickets last night! They each win:

  1. TWO Prime Orchestra tickets to Hamiltonon Broadway!
  2. TWO night's stay in a one bedroom suite at The Phillips Club at Lincoln Center
  3. TWO round-trip tickets on luxury shuttle bus transportation from DC to NYC.
Winners pictured with YAA's Board Secretary and Events Committee Chair Delia Chapoy 

Winners pictured with YAA's Board Secretary and Events Committee Chair Delia Chapoy 


YAA on Great Day Washington!

YAA on Great Day Washington!

This morning we were so honored to have our incredible Artist-in-Residence, Hugh Wooldridge on WUSA's Great Day Washington to speak about this Sunday's World Premiere of The Circle of Life: The Songs of Tim Rice. Don't have your tickets yet? What are you waiting for!

Great Day Washington Hosts

Great Day Washington Hosts

Alumni Check-In: Nicole Sergeyko

Alumni Check-In: Nicole Sergeyko

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

Year of Graduation: 2017

Current School: Manhattan School of Music

What's your news!?: I'm currently in rehearsals for The Cunning Little Vixen at MSM! I'll be singing the role of the forester's wife in April, then graduating and heading to Italy in the summer for more singing.

Tell us about something you learned at YAA and applied to your life today.: YAA completely shaped me for my college experience. I learned that slow and steady is better, and it's all about healthy singing. I also remember to never compare myself to other singers. Everyone is unique and on their own path!

Notes from the Maestro: Kris Talks 'Circle of Life'

Notes from the Maestro: Kris Talks 'Circle of Life'

With tickets going quickly for the upcoming production of The Circle of Life, Kristofer Sanz, our Music Director, chats about the show's musical scores and rehearsing with his YAA orchestra. 


What is particularly challenging about the orchestral playing in this production?

Of all the shows that we've done at YAA, for the orchestra, this is probably the most difficult to date. First, because they're playing over two hours of material, which is of course fatiguing to stay concentrated for that long, even for a professional player. The other challenge is that, even though all of the material comes from a single lyricist, Sir Tim Rice, he's worked with so many different composers that it covers such a wide range of genres of music -- everything from symphonic music, to pop music, to hard rock music with a rock combo. So the orchestra needs to play a bit like a jukebox. You put a quarter in, and a new style pops out! All of the sounds have to be there perfectly at all times. So for the students to be able to accomplish that, it's challenging, especially because they're coming from a primarily symphonic background. 

And playing rock as an orchestra is always complex. With a wind and brass instrument it's a little easier, but with a string instrument, a violin for example, doesn't naturally fall into the type of articulations and sound that a rock band would make. So the students are learning a lot of new techniques to accomplished a unified sound.

Which of the genres do you like most when it comes to working with your orchestra?

For me, it's always the lush music! For example in this show, all the arrangements for Beauty and the Beast, the ones that are actually orchestrated for a full symphony, are really beautiful and sweeping. And having the well-trained kids that we do, those are the ones that they tend to gravitate toward the most in terms of wanting to dig into. But they also do like the rock 'n' roll material as well, when they get to sit back and be a rock musician on the flute for once in their lives!

Don't have your tickets yet for the show? Don't wait. Buy now

Notes from The Maestro: Rolando Talks 'The Circle of Life'

Notes from The Maestro: Rolando Talks 'The Circle of Life'

With tickets for The Circle of Life available starting Monday, February 6th, we decided to sit down with Rolando Sanz, our Artistic Director, to ask him more about the production from an inside-look! 

What are you finding most interesting about the music that you're working on right now with ?

What's cool about this production that we're putting together with Hugh Wooldridge is that it showcases the lyrics from Tim Rice's greatest shows. It's very different putting a show like this together than producing a full book musical like we've done in the past. We are now actually having to create the material between the selections. So we're crafting the flow of the prodution from beginning to end, along with Hugh, who is devising and directing the show. 

Do you see a difference in some of Rice's earlier work versus some of his later work?

The early work, namely Joseph (and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Jesus Christ Superstar are very rock-based because that's kind of the world where Tim Rice came from. He and Andrew Lloyd Webber had that in common. These early shows are the Andrew Lloyd Webber years of course. And the material is so rich that it makes up all of Part One in our production.

Part Two our production goes into the second phase of Sir Tim's collaborations with Elton John as well as his work for Disney. This material is different in that Sir Tim worked with new composers, which of course influenced his writing. As a result, the lyrics he wrote for his shows with Andrew when he was younger are very different than the ones for Lion King or Beauty and the Beast. So yes, there is a difference and it's fascinating to see the development of this great lyricist from his youth into a  true master of his craft.

So is there any of this music that's tougher for our kids to sing?

No not necessarily tougher. The style is different. The rock music style is new-ish for many of our YAA musicians. And rock music is of course the backbone of Tim Rice's work -- especially with scores like Chess, Aida and Superstar. So our kids are having to master a different style, but they know how to do it. If anything the faculty is having to learn how to effective teach a different style of music!           

What is it like to be an opera singer and coaching kids in rock?

Personally, I'm finding I am having to learn how to efficiently and healthfully teach the rock vocabulary. If anything, being an opera singer is helping me teach them how to best put this music in their voices without straining themselves, which is very tempting in this style of rock singing.

So what are some tips you can give our students so they don't vocally strain themselves?

There's a different way for approaching the belt in women, for example. There are many different ways to sing a straight tone in the middle of your voice where a lot of this music is written. One of the ways to accomplish this sound is to bring your chest voice as high up as possible. And we hear that a lot. That's how Idina Menzel sings...very successfully. But what we're teaching the girls, for example, is that it's possible to find a really forward placement in the middle of their voice and not necessarily bring up all the chest voice. So it's a very forward-placed mixed sound that actually sounds like they're belting, and matches like the rock style, but that they can achieve over and over successfully without straining their voice.


YAA to Perform at The Kennedy Center!

YAA to Perform at The Kennedy Center!

On February 27th, a group from Young Artists of America will have the honor of performing at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Millennium Stage.

They will present highlights from our current 2016-2017 season, including selections from The Wizard of Oz, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Chess, The Lion King and In the Heights.

The performance will be free and open to the public. Doors will open at 5:30pm and the performance will run from 6pm to 7pm. Please note that here is no free parking for free events at The Kennedy Center.

YAA Student, Ethan Miller, Performs in Arena Stage Production

YAA Student, Ethan Miller, Performs in Arena Stage Production

Young Artists of America's very own Ethan Miller will be performing in Arena Stage's Watch On the Rhine from February 3rd to March 5th. This professional production is part of The Lillian Hellman Festival and starts Golden Globe Winner, Marsha Mason. Ethan sat down with us in between rehearsal time to talk about working in the professional theater world and his hopes for the future.

Tell us a bit more about the Arena production and your role.

The play that I am performing in at Arena Stage is called, The Watch on the Rhine by Lillian Hellman. It takes place during WWII and is about a family who’s father is a working anti-fascist, trying to dismantle the Nazi party. I am Joshua, who is the eldest son of the family. I have two younger siblings. I am very intelligent, and interested in my father's work. I speak many languages due to the fact that we have lived in so many countries, and I am very mature.

What are some things you have learned while being part of this Arena production?

I have learned to trust my own instincts while rehearsing. Because my character Joshua and I are are the same age, I have a much easier time creating a connection and relating to him as a person. I have learned to trust my own teenage instincts when it comes to my actions on stage.

How has YAA better prepared you for your professional work?

YAA expects their students to be prepared for rehearsal and work hard.  The rehearsals, working with  professional mentors, and the expectation to give our all at each rehearsal and performance adds up to the proper preparation of a professional actor.

How are you feeling heading into opening night on February 3rd?

I am incredibly excited, but also very nervous. I am working with people who have been on Broadway and in movies and I don’t want to let them down. However, I also know that as long as I focus and practice I’m going to have an incredible experience.

What are your hopes for your future career?

It’s very important to me to earn a college degree and my goal is to pursue a degree in acting or musical theatre. My future is wide open.

Four-time Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl) leads an ensemble cast as Fanny Farrelly in Lillian Hellman's suspenseful masterpiece Watch on the Rhine. With America on the brink of entering World War II, Fanny's daughter escapes to the D.C. suburbs with her German husband, a man deeply involved in anti-fascist movements. But with an Eastern European guest with ulterior motives also living in their midst, tensions rise as it becomes clear that no one's safety can be guaranteed — at home or abroad.

If you'd like to see Ethan and Watch On the Rhine, call the Arena Stage Box Office at 202-488-3300. Mention that you know Ethan Miller and receive a 20% discount.