Master Artist Series brings in renowned professionals to guide students.
Despite an ever-changing world, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) continues to innovate and find new ways to engage its diverse student body of young artists, preparing them for success in college and future careers. Among the many unique learning opportunities OCSA provides is the Master Artist Series, which enters its fifth season during 2020-2021.
Even though many classes will take place online this year, there is no shortage of talent and wisdom to be shared from this year’s impressive group of visiting artists, performers, authors, educators and industry leaders. The guests share their knowledge and career advice with students through demonstrations, workshops, panel discussions, master classes and more.
“For an aspiring young artist, the experience of working directly with a professional is often life-changing as it strengthens their belief in themselves and what’s possible,” said OCSA Founder and Executive Director Ralph Opacic, Ed.D. “Although many of our classes will take place virtually to begin the school year, the students will still be able to receive feedback on their work, hear inspiring stories and ask their burning questions. We are grateful to the artists for their time and passion in giving back to the next generation by providing this transformative experience.”
Highly anticipated guest artists include Misty Copeland, the first Black female to be promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre; Tony Award-winning actress Stephanie J. Block (“The Cher Show”); Travis Wall, Emmy nominated choreographer for “So You Think You Can Dance?”; Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Kevin Wilmott; and so many others representing a wide array of artistic genres.
The 2020-2021 season also includes the Creators & Innovators series, featuring two impressive academic speakers. Award-winning novelist and short story author Richard Bausch has had works featured in The New Yorker, Esquire and Harpers. Mukundh Pandian, global business development and strategy manager at Northrop Grumman, shares his expertise in aircraft engineering, design, international aerospace and defense with students in advanced math and science courses.
Finally, OCSA welcomes its Artists in Residence, who provide in-depth guidance by working with students over the course of the school year. This season, both artists in residence come from a partnership with Pacific Symphony: Concertmaster Dennis Kim, who has spent over a decade leading orchestras in the United States, Europe and Asia; and Principal Flutist Benjamin Smolen, who has recorded with some of the world’s most celebrated composers, including the esteemed John Williams.
The entire portfolio of esteemed professionals can be viewed on the 2020-2021 Masters Artist Series Flyer. A list is also provided below:
· Tony Award-winning actress and OCSA alumna Stephanie J. Block is recognized as one of the most versatile voices in musical theater. She is most celebrated for her roles in “The Cher Show” and “Wicked.”
· Travis Wall is an Emmy Award-winning dancer, choreographer and instructor. He is best known for his work on the television series, “So You Think You Can Dance.”
· OCSA alumnus Dante Basco is an acclaimed actor, dancer and producer best known for his roles as Rufio in “Hook,” Zuko in “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and the lead role of Jake Long in “American Dragon: Jake Long.”
· Classically trained actor and voice actor John Michael Higgins is best known for his roles in Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries and the film “Pitch Perfect.”
· David Pasquesi is an actor, comedian and writer for the stage, film and television; most famously recognized for his roles in “Veep,” “Groundhog Day” and “Angels & Demons.”
· Clayton Cameron is a master drummer, writer, composer and producer. He has performed and recorded with music legends including Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder.
· Misty Copeland is a trailblazing ballerina, actress, author and activist. She is the first-ever Black female to be promoted to principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
· World-renowned artist development specialist Judy Stakee has developed and managed Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry and Jewel.
· Darnell Abraham is an award-winning Broadway actor, currently playing George Washington in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” in the And Peggy National Tour.
· Dolora Zajick is an internationally acclaimed Verdi mezzo-soprano and has appeared in opera and concert with prominent conductors, including James Levine and Anthony Pappano.
· As an acclaimed soprano, Angel Blue is recognized as one of the best singers in her generation. She is a regular BBC presenter and has performed in over 35 countries.
· Thomas Lang is regarded as one of the world’s greatest drummers. He has headlined every major drum festival and owns the drum and music-based school Nine Beats USA.
· OCSA alumnus Tim Wynn is an award-winning composer for films, television, documentaries and video games. Some of his notable works include “To Save A Life,” “XCOM2,” “Mech-X4” and “Supernatural.”
· As an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director, Kevin Willmott is best known for work focusing on Black issues, including “Ninth Street,” “C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America,” “Bunker Hill” and “BlacKkKlansman.”
· The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players is a repertory theater company that performs the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan annually in New York City and throughout North America.
· Renowned costume designer, Ruth E. Carter is the first Black person to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for her work in Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther.”
· Anna Deavere Smith is a Tony-Award and Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright, actress, teacher, humanitarian and author. Her notable works include “Fires in the Mirror” and “Twilight: Los Angeles”
· Frederic Chiu is a classical concert pianist and Yamaha artist. Chiu founded a holistic approach to piano playing that has been presented at the most acclaimed institutions, including The Juilliard School.
· Anna Trebunskaya is a world-famous ballroom and Latin dancer, choreographer, actress and TV personality most widely recognized for her nine-year role on “Dancing with the Stars.”
· Matthew R. Kay is the acclaimed author of “Not Light, But Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom” and the founder and executive director of Philly Slam League.
· OCSA alumna Grace McLean is an acclaimed Broadway actress and singer, creator of the award-winning original musical “In The Green,” and writer in residence at Lincoln Center Theater.
· Rick Messina is a casting director for Netflix, Amazon, Apple+ and feature films, including Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and Disney’s “Tomorrowland.”
· Matthew Campbell Laurenza is a fine jewelry designer, sculptor and painter whose pieces have been displayed in exhibitions and luxury stores worldwide.
· Eric Whitacre is a renowned conductor, speaker and one of the most popular and frequently performed composers in the world as well as a graduate of The Juilliard School.
· Derrick Ashong is a producer, musician and entrepreneur known for working with major figures such as Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg. He is also the founder and CEO of AMP Global Technologies.
· Lucia Brawley is a celebrated actress, producer and writer. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and CNN.com and a former political organizer for the Obama presidential campaigns.
· Music publishing and licensing expert Nancy Stern is president and owner of MusicResources, Inc. and has worked with recording artists such as 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas and Snoop Dog.
· A highly credited music and entertainment lawyer, Ben McLane has represented several award-winning artists, including the Dixie Chicks, the Eagles, Cher and Alicia Keys.
OCSA’s Master Artist Series is generously sponsored by Kent and Brandi Barkouras, Bushala Family, Farmers & Merchants Bank, JE Foundation, McBeth Foundation, Maureen and Michal Mekjian, Yamaha and Charlie and Ling Zhang. OCSA is also grateful to partners Chapman University, Irvine Barclay Theatre, OCSA Black Student Union, Pacific Symphony, Philharmonic Society of Orange County and The Music Center.