A striking black and white photo of a young woman who appears to have dozed off while behind the wheel of a car as her date slumbers in the backseat, has earned an 18-year-old Belmont High School senior a $4,000 scholarship and the distinction of being one of just 16 high school students honored at the Music Center’s 25th Annual Spotlight Awards held last weekend at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Henry Abrego’s stylized photo harkens back to the glamour of a by-gone era, but the hauntingly beautiful photo is likely to strike a cord with parents everywhere who worry about their teen’s safety on prom night.
The Music Center’s Annual Spotlight Awards is a long-standing arts-education program that seeks to indentify Southern California’s most talented teens. The program draws participants from public and private schools all across Southern California. More than 2,200 students participated in the free yearlong program and competition, which culminated with 16 performance and visual arts participants earning first place or runner-up awards and scholarship money. Abrego was the runner-up in the Photography category.
In total, $100,000 was awarded in scholarships, with each of the first-pace winners receiving $5,000 and the runner-ups receiving $4,000 each.
According to the Music Center, the Spotlight Awards are not just another competition, but a program that “emphasizes the achievement of artistic goals through the development of skills, knowledge and self-confidence.”
Several past recipients have gone on to successful careers in the arts, including pop music star Adam Lambert, American Ballet Theatre ballerina Misty Copeland, Alvin Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing, Broadway’s Erin Mackey, and the New York Philharmonic’s Principal Oboist Liang Wang, according to the Music Center.