Local students appear on public television special

One hundred and fifty members of a Bethesda-based youth arts program appeared on a televised tribute to an acclaimed composer June 1.

Founded in 2011 by brother Rolando and Kristofer Sanz, Young Artists of America at Strathmore provides instruction and mentorship to middle and high school students throughout the D.C. metro area in various aspects of musical theater. The one-hour television special, “Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice,” is hosted by Rice himself, a frequent collaborator with Andrew Lloyd Webber and others on several acclaimed Broadway musicals. It was recently filmed at Maryland Public Television’s studio in Owings Mills.

The program features performances of songs from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita” and others. It also featured segments where Rice speaks about his career, as well as featuring footage of the performers’ backstage preparations.

YAA performers enjoyed the challenge of performing in a new medium.

It was a very different and new experience compared with being on the stage,” said Lily James, 15, a student at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda.

“Performing for a TV recording allows you the opportunity to redo things, as opposed to the one-time deal of performing for a theater,” said Jack Zhao, principal cello of the YAA orchestra. “The pressure is still there, however, because you don’t want to keep the rest of the orchestra and the signers waiting for your perfect solo.”

“Filming for television was an exciting new adventure for everyone at Young Artists of America, including the faculty,” said Rolando Sanz, who continues to serve as YAA’s producing artistic director.

“Kristofer and I are amazed at the growth of Young Artists of America since we founded the organization back in 2011. From our first humble concert, where we set up folding chairs for the audience, little could we have imagined that six short years later that we would have the opportunity to showcase our talented students not only on some of the greatest stages in the region, including the Music Center at Strathmore, but also on a television program on Maryland Public Television. We are so proud of all of our students, as well as of our organization, which gives such wonderful music education opportunities to the community.”

“We were thrilled to have had the talented YAA performers to our studios to record this program featuring some of the most beautiful and moving music ever written for the stage and screen,” said MPT Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steven Schupak. “This type of television – bringing the arts to life and featuring many of Maryland’s finest student performers expressing their creative talents – is exactly why public television and MPT exists. We know viewers will enjoy seeing these aspiring singers and musicians honor Sir Tim Rice with their performances.” 

“Young Artists of America: The songs of Tim Rice” aired on MPT at 8 p.m. on June 1 and again on June 2 at 1:45 a.m. The program will be rebroadcast on a date to be determined in August.



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