Carmel Valley singer Lia Zheng has been named one of two finalists in the classical voice category of the Los Angeles Music Center’s annual Spotlight competition. The Canyon Crest Academy junior with a rich, lyrical soprano voice won a $5,000 prize and will perform in the Music Center’s Spotlight Grand Finale on June 15 at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles.
The Music Center, one of the largest performing arts centers in the country, hosts a nationally recognized arts competition every year. This year, more than 1,300 teens representing more than 256 schools and 181 cities auditioned for the program. Students compete in seven categories: acting, classical voice, non-classical voice, ballet, dance, classical instrument and jazz instrument. And the contest is completely free.
“It’s really amazing because the actual performers didn’t have to pay anything to be a part of it,” Lia said.
In addition to Lia’s final, Canyon Crest Academy junior Grace Li was also one of 100 semi-finalists in the dance competition.
Lia began taking group singing lessons when she was in first grade and in fifth grade she transitioned to private lessons with her teacher Zeping Cai, a member of the Music Teacher’s Association of California and the National Association of Teachers. of Singing. She also played the piano for four years and reached advanced level six but stopped focusing on her singing.
At CCA, Lia is part of the Envision Conservatory for the Humanities and at the graduate level she hopes to study a combination of music, computer science and philosophy.
A surprise to anyone who’s seen the expressive Lia perform and hit all her high notes, the teenage singer doesn’t have much performance experience – she was performing once a year at her old school, l ‘After School Learning Tree in Sorrento Valley Annual Gala. A silver lining of the pandemic, she was able to enter more competitions as they all moved online.
The Spotlight competition was online for the first two rounds, and the semi-finals were held in person in Los Angeles. She performed two pieces, “Do Not Go My Love” by Richard Hageman and “La Promessa” by Gioachino Rossini, before a jury.
Along with the other semi-finalists, Lia also had the opportunity to attend a special master’s course in their discipline with renowned artists, who share their expertise on performance technique, training and working life at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
“For the master class, I was really, really nervous,” Lia said. “The actual competition, I felt pretty good, I didn’t regret anything in my performance at all.”
On Monday, April 18, when the finalists were announced, Lia was at school and her phone wasn’t working to check the results online. She then received a text from her proud father saying “Congratulations”: “I was really really happy about that,” she said.
At the Spotlight Grand Finale on June 15, Lia will perform “La Promessa.” Along with being a finalist, Lia is also grateful that Spotlight director Jeri Gaile introduced her to music teachers Kathleen Martin, Vera Calabria and Bruce Stasyna, “They have helped me so much on my singing journey at the last few months,” she mentioned.