YoungArts finalists in Miami for week of classes, performances

Written By Josie Gulliksen
January 25, 2017 at 1:52 PM

YoungArts finalists in Miami for week of classes, performances

YoungArts Week played host to the program’s 167 finalists who descended upon Miami to perfect their craft by learning from master teachers and performing at various venues. The finalists were chosen from the 691 winners.

The week provided an invaluable opportunity to learn from mentors and master teachers in all disciplines. Those included voice, theater, jazz, film, classical music, visual arts and writing.

Classes were held at the YoungArts campus, the New World Center on Miami Beach and in the Hilton Hotel in the Omni area.

At the Hilton, jazz finalists performed under the direction of master teacher Jimmy Heath. Heath shared personal stories of his journey as a jazz musician when he performed with greats like Dizzie Gillespie and Miles Davis. He has also performed on more than 100 albums and credited with writing more than 125 compositions. He took the students through variations of the same song, all in preparation for their evening performance.

Joseph Block, the 2017 winner in Jazz, said “jazz is the idea that you can play something that no one else has done before, it’s a vehicle to express yourself, others, emotions.”

Jazz performance during YoungArts Week Miami. Photo by Jason Koerner

In another room, master teacher Marcus Quinones, a playwright and actor in various theater productions around the country and a graduate of the London International School of Performing Arts, took his group of students through various exercises. For nearly 45 minutes, students paced the room, sometimes alone, other times in teams of two and at times pushing and pulling. They also practiced various voice exercises. His goal was to show them techniques on how to prepare for their performance.

With all the performances and the week concluded, the students are now considered YoungArts alumni, which means they will receive a lifetime of support, additional opportunities to collaborate with each other and also to work with YoungArts in the future.

They are also eligible for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic and artistic excellence. U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts receive a Presidential Medal at the White House and perform and exhibit at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian. Sixty four of the finalists will be recommended, and ultimately 20 will be chosen by the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. They will perform in Washington, D.C. in June.

“An artist’s journey at YoungArts begins when they are selected, but it will extend throughout their career. Our winners become part of the organization’s robust alumni network of more than 20,000 leading artists, with access to a lifetime of professional and educational possibilities,” said Lisa Leone, vice president of Artistic Programs. “This past year, we have made significant strides in expanding our alumni programs. We hope that 2017 winners will use us as a springboard to achieve their goals and dreams.”

To learn more about YoungArts, its master teachers and programs, visit


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