The Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville, North Carolina announces the 2016 Y.E.S. Emerging Artists Fund student scholarship winners: Luke Haaksma for his piano performance; and Michelle Padron for her spoken word poetry and theatre.
The Emerging Artists Fund is a new program to support young performers by providing scholarships for graduating Buncombe County high school seniors pursuing a career in the performing arts. There were 14 applicants in this inaugural year, and each submitted an application with accompanying essay, letter of recommendation from a teacher, instructor or mentor, and a video audition. Luke Haaksma and Michelle Padron are each awarded a $1,000 scholarship to the school of their choice, and their talents will be showcased during a special concert on March 19, 2016 featuring stephaniesĭd at the Diana Wortham Theatre.
“We were blown away by the talent and passion exhibited by all of the students who applied for the scholarship,” said Rae Geoffrey, Associate Director of Diana Wortham Theatre. “It was difficult to choose only two of these amazing young people. Luke and Michelle are wonderful representations of the next generation who will change the future of performing arts. We couldn’t be more excited to help them along their path and to see where the future takes them.”
Luke Haaksma is a senior at Asheville High School. An accomplished pianist, he hopes to study at a conservatory program, earn a PhD in music composition, and compose scores for films. “I’ll never tire of education and I’ll never write simply for acclaim,” said Haaksma. “I only wish to develop my voice as a composer while in the company of other musicians who share my passion.”
Michelle Padron is also a senior at Asheville High School. She hopes to go to college to study theatre arts and psychology, and then use those principles to develop a form of theatre therapy geared specifically for people who have limited access to the performing arts, such as hospital patients, the incarcerated, and those in low-income inner city communities. “I chose my path at a young age, and have stuck with it,” said Padron. “I know, and have long known, that I have found my ‘thing.’”
This year’s scholarship winners will be showcased at the March 19, 2016 event with stephaniesĭd. The evening is also a benefit concert for local children through Diana Wortham Theatre’s Y.E.S. Fund. Best known for its outstanding mix of songs and irresistibly infectious live performances, stephaniesĭd is a pop-noir trio combining jazz, rock and pop to churn out wondrous and highly original tunes. In addition to their work with the band, pianist Chuck Lichtenberger and vocalist Stephanie Morgan and have contributed to the musical careers of hundreds of young artists. Chuck Lichtenberger has taught piano lessons to hundreds of children in the Asheville area since 1995. Many of his students have gone on to study music at renowned university music programs. Stephanie Morgan began her career in social work, helping emotionally traumatized kids through a wilderness therapy program, and later, counseling families through the process of fostering and adoption. She also teaches private lessons to students with an emphasis on helping them “find their voice.” The band will work with the Y.E.S. Emerging Artist award winners to integrate and showcase the students and their talent into the March 19th performance.
Video elements for the performance are also provided by student talent. Kai Lendzion is a senior at Asheville High School who plans to pursue a career in filmmaking, audio engineering, and sound design. His dream is to create soundtrack music and sound engineering for films and live performances.
The Emerging Artists Fund is an outgrowth of the Y.E.S. (Youth Education Scholarship) Fund, which was created to make it possible for underserved students to attend Diana Wortham Theatre school programming. Scholarships, made possible by private donors, cover the cost of admission and are available to students on a free or reduced lunch program. The Y.E.S. program expanded in 2015 to cover artist workshops in local schools and the Emerging Artists Fund. Donations to the Y.E.S. Fund and its programs are accepted any time; more information at www.dwtheatre.com/Y-E-S-Fund.
Contact/Info: For more information on the Y.E.S. Emerging Artists Fund, visit www.dwtheatre.com/emerging-artists-fund or call the theatre at (828) 257-4530.