Long Beach teen wins award and $5K in rigorous SoCal music competition

Long Beach resident and Los Alamitos High School senior Santiago Lopez is one of 14 students who recently won The Music Center’s 33rd Annual Spotlight program, a free nationally acclaimed arts training and scholarship program for Southern California teens.

Nearly 1,500 students from more than 275 schools applied to the rigorous competition, which required multiple rounds of virtual auditions. Lopez won for his saxophone playing under the category “jazz instrumental.”

Los Alamitos senior and saxophonist, Santiago Lopez. Photo courtesy The Music Center.

“Each year, we are astonished by the level of talent we see come through the Spotlight program, and this year is no exception. We truly believe these students are stars in the making and are proud to have contributed to the development of their artistry and confidence as aspiring performers and young adults,” Rachel S. Moore president and CEO of The Music Center said in a press release.

In addition to a $5,000 scholarship Lopez gets to pocket, the 18-year-old saxophone player will play during the center’s annual Grand Finale Performance, which will be held virtually again this year. The show, which can be watched free online, will be hosted by multi-platinum recording artist and Spotlight alum, Josh Groban.

Each of the 14 winners will showcase their own individual talent during the show that will culminate in a song-and-dance performance with all of the finalists. That performance is choreographed by Phillip Chbeeb, whose moves have been featured in film, television and music videos including Justin Bieber’s music video “All Around Me.”

Winning the Spotlight competition is an exciting and promising honor for its young contestants, as many of the program’s winners have gone on to pursue successful professional careers in music, voice and dance. Notable past winners include Josh Groban, “American Idol”-famous Adam Lambert, Emmy-winning composer Kris Bowers, and Tony award-winner Lindsay Mendez.

The 33rd Annual Spotlight Virtual Grand Finale show can be watched online Saturday, May 22. Show starts at 7 p.m. PST. Click here to watch the stream live on Facebook.


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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.