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April 24, 2007 > Young Artists Showcase bids a final farewell

Young Artists Showcase bids a final farewell

By Julie Grabowski

After two decades of promoting Tri-City talented youth, the Fremont Cultural Arts Council's Young Artists Showcase takes its final bow on May 6. "I hate to let the event go," says FCAC president Margaret Thornberry, "but we just don't have the youthful volunteers with the strength, expertise, time, and interest to keep it going any longer."

Young Artists Showcase (YAS) was established in order to recognize amateur performers, artists and photographers living in the Tri-Cities. It provided an opportunity for critique by qualified judges, performance in front of an audience, and the chance to win a $50 cash scholarship. The showcase is also filmed and broadcast later on cable TV. A similar program preceded the YAS, but was not as extensive as its current incarnation. "We revised it and renamed it," says event chair Mary Wolfe, who has been on the arts council for 20 years and also serves on the board of directors. "It just seemed to evolve. There seemed to be a need, we just filled it."

Volunteers have come and gone over the years, but six devoted women have remained at the core of YAS: Doris Green, Bev Rose, Mary Alice van Dorrn, Marie Matthews, Anne MacLeod, and Mary Wolfe. "It's a very involved program and process," says Wolfe. The showcase date is scheduled a year in advance and volunteers work from January to May on paperwork changes, taking applications to schools and libraries, securing judges, creating audition schedules, notifying winners by mail and phone, putting together the program, calligraphying certificates, and transporting the art and photography pieces. Not to mention the meetings in between or the brownie baking for the showcase's intermission. Quite an undertaking for one year, much less 20! Not many people would be willing to extend themselves as these ladies have for such a length of time. Their dedication and unflagging efforts have made the Young Artists Showcase a wonderful success, the source of joy and encouragement for many.

Over 100 young people typically participate in the audition process each year in groups or singularly, demonstrating their skills in dance, drama, instrumental, vocal, art, and photography. Entrants must be under 23 years of age and are split into two divisions: Junior (through 14 years of age), and Senior (15-22). This year drama will be absent from the program due to lack of entrants, but Wolfe says the instrumental portion is always "very heavily attended and very high quality."

Three judges are retained for each discipline and are responsible for making recommendations for the showcase performance. All judges hold degrees in their evaluation field, many working as teachers in the area, and a few are even former showcase winners. Returning vocal judge Karen McCutcheon took the prize in instrumental and vocal, and first-time judge Kristen Del Rio was also a vocal winner. All participants receive a full-page judgment of their performance, so even those who do not advance to the showcase can have a worthwhile experience.

Sunday's showcase begins at 3 p.m. at Ohlone College's Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts. It is a 2-hour program consisting of 19 acts where finalists in the performing arts (dance, vocal, instrumental) will be evaluated and awarded. Past emcee Alicia Marcella returns to introduce such talents as15-year-old Lance Smith singing an Italian aria, a piano duet by 12-year-old Gus Lu and 11-year-old Jonathan Shao, as well as classical piano performances by 16-year-old Sharon Tseung, and 10-year-old Marie Lu. A variety of dance styles will also be exhibited, from the lyrical dance "Sisters," to "Thira Nurayum," a semi-classical Indian dance, and the hip-hop moves of "3 P.M."

The winners and honorable mentions in art and photography will be on display at the showcase then transferred to the main entrance of the Fremont Main Library where they will remain through the month of May. Pictures of the performing arts winners taken during the showcase will also be displayed.

"It's been a labor of love certainly," says Wolfe about her time with the showcase. "To see kids develop, see the level of expertise increase year after year has been very special." The few opportunities available to talented youth when the showcase first began have now grown to many, and Wolfe says that fact makes it easier to go. "We can be proud of what we've done for the 20 years."

In parting, those involved with the Young Artists Showcase say: "It is our hope that we have instilled a legacy for the arts in the thousands of lives that have been touched by this program." And surely such a bright light will shine on.

Tickets can be purchased at the door; $6 for adults and $4 for students (12 and under) and seniors. For those who miss the showcase, or those who simply want to enjoy it again, the program will be broadcast on Ohlone TV channel 28 throughout the month. For more information, call (510) 794-7166, or visit

20th Annual Young Artists Showcase
Sunday, May 6
3 p.m.
Smith Center, Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 794-7166
Prices: $6 adults, $4 students and seniors

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