News

MEDIA ADVISORY: Student Winners of the 2019 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge Gather in New York to Record Their Songs

Emerging Musical Theater Artists To Be Showcased

Washington, DC—The six winners of the 2019 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge will be at New York City’s Reservoir studios for the recording of their final, original song on October 20 and 21, 2019. The Songwriting Challenge is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing. 

The winners—one duo and five individuals—were chosen by review panels of professional theater artists in a blind competition from almost 170 applications submitted by high school students in 40 states. Each winner was assigned a coaching team of New York City-based theater artists—mentor and music director—that worked with them both remotely and during a weekend workshop in the winner’s hometown to hone their song into a Broadway-ready composition. 

Now, the winners’ compositions will be recorded as a 2019 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge cast album, produced and distributed by Concord Theatricals. The combination of instruments and number of vocalists for the songs were selected by each winner in consultation with their music director and will be performed by professional theater musicians and vocalists.

The winners’ songs vary in theme and style, based on stories that these young people want to tell, whether from their own experiences, imaginations, or moments in history that have something to say about our current times. Each recording session will start with rehearsal and recording of the instrumental ensemble, followed by the vocal lead(s), followed by the vocal ensemble, each laying their track on top of the preceding artists. 

Program collaborators are Disney Theatrical Productions and Samuel French, Inc., a Concord Theatricals company. The S.O.N.G.S Foundation of the National Music Publishers Association is contributing $10,000 towards school scholarships for the winners.

The winners below are linked to individual web pages featuring video and photos from their weekend workshop. To schedule a visit at Reservoir and interviews, please contact Victoria Hutter per the information above. 

WHAT:       Recording sessions for the 2019 winners of the Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge

WHERE:     Reservoir studios, 36 W. 37th Street, New York, New York 10018    

WHEN:       Sunday, October 20 and Monday, October 21 from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm        

October 20
9:00 am- 1:00 pm   Akira Sky (Los Angeles, CA)
                Lead vocalist: Gizel Jimenez (currently appearing in Wicked)
                Mentor: J. Oconer Navarro  Music Director: Anna Ebbesen

1:00 – 5:00 pm      Tessa Barcelo (Andover, MA)
                Lead Vocalist: Jo Lampert (Off Bway: Hundred Days, New York 
                    Theatre Workshop), Joan of Arc, Public Theater)
                Mentor: Anna Jacobs  Music Director: Anna Ebbesen
5:00 – 9:00 pm      Breezy Love (Winnetka, IL)
                Vocalists; Renee Marino (Broadway:Pretty Woman); Lexi Radadi (Off Bway: Hannah Senesh,
                   National Yiddish Theatre); Matt Farcher (Broadway:Beautiful: The Carole King Musical)
                Mentor: César Alvarez  Music Director: Patrick Sulken

October 21
9:00 am – 1:00 pm  Emalee Flatness (Willard, MO)
               Lead Vocalists: AJ Shively (Broadway: Bright Star; Brigadoon; La Cage Aux Folles);
                    Kalyn West (Broadway: The Prom; Off Bway: Moby Dick, Museum of Natural History)
                Mentor: Max Vernon  Music Director: Daniel Lincoln
1:00 – 5:00 pm     Sophia Schwaner (Staunton, VA)
                Lead Vocalist: Katie Thompson (Off Broadway: R.R.R.E.D., Pump Boys 
                    and Dinettes, 
Encores!)
                Mentor: Max Vernon  Music Director: Benjamin Rauhala
5:00 – 9:00 pm     Makai Keur and Julian Watson (Franklin, TN)
                Lead Vocalist: Derek Klena (Broadway: Jagged Little Pill, Anastasia)
                Mentor: Shakina Nayfack  Music Director: Benjamin Rauhala

About the National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts.

About the American Theatre Wing
The American Theatre Wing champions bravery, with a focus on developing the next generation of brave artists. We envision an American Theatre that is as vital, multi-faceted, and diverse as the American people. The Wing’s programs span the nation to invest in the growth and evolution of American theatre.
We provide theatre education opportunities for underserved students through the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative, develop the next generation of theatre professionals through the SpringboardNYC, Theatre Intern Network, and SwingSeats programs, incubate innovative theatre across the country through the National Theatre Company Grants, support emerging musical theatre songwriters through the Jonathan Larson® Grants in addition to the Songwriting Challenge, and illuminate the creative process through the Emmy-nominated “Working in the Theatre” documentary series. In addition to founding the Tony Awards®, which are co-presented with The Broadway League, the American Theatre Wing co-presents the Obie Awards®, Off Broadway’s Highest Honor, with The Village Voice. AmericanTheatreWing.org

Contact

Victoria Hutter, hutterv@arts.gov, (O) 202-682-5692, (M) 202-227-1071