Celebrating the 100th Anniversary
Shana Blake Hill ,vocalist continues to excite audiences and critics alike as she proves herself a multifaceted performer in both operatic and orchestral repertoires. Opera News recently hailed Ms. Hill’s Cincinnati Opera debut of Rosalba in Florencia en el Amazonas as “…a highlight of the performance…floods of glorious sound.” Hill’s performance of composer Bright Sheng’s The Phoenix with Blake HillThe Philadelphia Orchestra caused the Saratogan to exclaim “Shana Blake Hill was amazing in this very difficult soprano role…her richly colored tone lent dignity and a sense of awe to the tale…she was a mesmerizing presence.”
Ms. Hill has appeared as a principal artist with such opera companies as: The Los Angeles Opera, Savonlinna Festival Opera (Finland), Dayton Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Pacific, Long Beach Opera, Santa Barbara Opera, Fargo Moorhead Opera, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival Opera, Berkshire Opera and Opera Nova. She has also been featured as a solo artist with orchestras such as; The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, The Pacific Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, The New West Symphony, Pacific Chorale, The Florida Philharmonic, The Naples Philharmonic, The Pasadena Symphony, The Louisville Orchestra, The Colorado Symphony, and The Durham Symphony.
Especially at home with contemporary music, some of Ms. Hill’s World Premiers and projects include: Bright Sheng’s The Phoenix for soprano and orchestra, Sakagawea in Michael Ching’s opera Corps of Discovery on the Louis and Clark expedition, Sally Hemings in Glenn Paxton’s opera Monticello on the controversial personal life of Thomas Jefferson, Ticie in On Gold Mountain, an opera by Nathan Wang commissioned by Los Angeles Opera on the novel by Lisa See, Sara’s Diary: 9/11, a dramatic song cycle on prose by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Leroy Aarons for NPR live radio broadcast, and both the roles of Rosalba and Florencia Grimaldi in Daniel Catan’s acclaimed opera Florencia en el Amazonas.
In the genre of film Ms. Hill was chosen by legendary film composer Jerry Goldsmith to record the title track “The Mission” which opens Paramount’s Blockbuster film The Sum of All Fears. Amazon.com remarks in their review of the soundtrack CD, “what sets it apart is the operatic performance of Shana Blake Hill…a stirring opening which proves to be the highpoint of the score.” Ms. Hill’s performance of “The Mission” was recently chosen to be part of Paramount Studio’s newly released 90th Anniversary Favorite Soundtrack Compilation CD. Other media credits include solos on the soundtracks of the feature film “Red Dirt” and the Sci-Fi Series “Seven Days to Midnight”.
Highlights of Ms. Hill’s recent engagements and notable upcoming events include: The recent release on the Naxos label of Bright Sheng’s The Phoenix and Ms. Hill’s subscription debut (The Phoenix) with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit, Violetta in La Traviata with Dayton Opera, Mr. Tambourine Man by John Corigliano with The Pasadena Symphony, Roberta in An American Tragedy by Tobias Picker (West Coast Premiere), World Premiere song cycle By William H. Curry with The North Carolina Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem with The Pasadena Symphony and Northwest Sinfonietta, Nedda in I Pagliacci with Opera Sacramento, Violetta in La Traviata with Opera Southwest, Maria in West Side Story with the Lexington Philharmonic, A Christmas Celebration at Disney Hall, and an evening of three Puccini Heroines with The Northwest Sinfonietta. Projects in Development include a classical Cabaret series in Downtown LA in collaboration with The Blankenship Ballet and a new album/live performance project with Grammy-winning producer Andreao Heard.
Born in North Carolina Ms. Hill received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, her Master of Music from The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, and is an Alumna of The Los Angeles Opera’s Resident Artist program. She is a proud resident of and participant in the Downtown LA Arts Community.
Brittany Daniels began dancing ballet at the age of eight and later studied hip-hop, jazz, modern, and ballroom at the age of 14. She completed Cecchetti examinations 1-5 and earned international honors for her last examination. Some summer dance intensives she attended are Cecchetti USA (nominated for an award in her division), American Ballet Theater, Ballet Magnificat! (full scholarship), and LINES Ballet (scholarship).
She was awarded the most promising dancer in her home city, Temecula, California, by ODC modern dance company, as well as offered a full scholarship to their dance intensive. She was offered an apprenticeship to the modern company, PGK Dance Project when she was 18. She traveled and danced in Washington D.C., New York, Italy, and Cuba with Dunamix Dance Project. She was honored with many opportunities to perform, serve, and teach dance at places that served underprivileged children, abused children, individuals with HIV/AIDS, and individuals who are homeless. Currently, Brittany leads the dance program at Maranatha High School in Pasadena. Brittany joined Lineage in 2018. Brittany returns to Women Rise by popular demand.
Nia Allen, To describe Nia Allen’s music is to describe the sound of pure, passionate worship. Nia is one of this generation’s fresh talents leading the way in praise and worship. She has traveled as a background vocalist for CeCe Winans, Nicole C. Mullen, David and Nicole Binion and many others. She is a recurring guest artist on TBN’s Praise the Lord program and is continually gaining national and international exposure within the realm of Praise and Worship. Nia has led worship for CeCe Winans’ “Always Sisters Forever Brothers” youth conferences, the National Worship Leader’s Conference, and is currently traveling with the Women of Faith Conference ministering to over 10,000 women every weekend. The ministry God has given Nia goes beyond singing; she is also a songwriter and teacher. Having a universal appeal, her music is honest, uplifting and captivating to the soul. She is truly something special and her ministry will impact the world and lives of many.
Rachel Fine, Moderator
Rachel Fine was named Executive Director/CEO of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) in June 2018. Before assuming her position as Managing Director of The Wallis in November 2015, she was a Senior Consultant at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. Drawing upon an 18-year career in the arts as a versatile administrator, educator, and fundraiser, as well as a professional classical musician, Fine served as Executive Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), establishing LACO as orchestra-in-residence for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA in an ongoing and mutually beneficial collaboration; successfully shepherding LACO through the challenges of the Great Recession; and expanding the reach of the Orchestra with prestigious debuts beyond Los Angeles. she spearheaded high-profile community events as “Play Me, I’m Yours,” an ambitious three-week project that placed 30 pianos in 30 locations across Los Angeles, and Strad Fest LA, a four-day citywide festival featuring eight Stradivarius violins. Strad Fest LA earned press coverage in The Wall Street Journal and on “60 Minutes,” and also resulted in a record-breaking fundraiser for LACO.
Also, she served in leadership positions at such institutions as the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, where she helped found the Young Men’s Ensemble, a rare choral group for young men with changing voices, for The Juilliard School, Santa Fe Opera, and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as the renowned San Francisco-based period ensemble Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Fine completed a one-year comprehensive Management Fellowship in 2001-02 at the John F.Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts under the guidance of then-President Michael M. Kaiser.
Fine was also selected to participate in the 2012 Leadership L.A. program, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s 2008-09 Arts Leadership Initiative, and the 2007-08 Wells Fargo New Executive Directors Institute of Southern California’s Executive Service Corps. She is a founding mentor of the Los Angeles Emerging Arts Leaders’ mentorship program.
An accomplished pianist, Fine studied at the Eastman School of Music and the University of California, Irvine, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in music. She also attended graduate school in musicology at Yale University.
She served on the Board of Directors of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO) for six years and recently joined the Board of Councilors for the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, where she also teaches a graduate course in executive arts leadership. Fine has been enlisted as moderator and panelist by ACSO, League of American Orchestras, USC Thornton School of Music, and Chorus America, and has served as an advisor since 2009 to the DeVos Institute of Arts Management with clients that include the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
She and her husband, Christopher Hawthorne, the Chief Design Officer for the City of Los Angeles,have two children who love the arts.
Gigi Yam (任霜霜) is a TV personality and Event MC in Los Angeles. She hosts several shows on Chinese broadcasting television station SkyLink TV. Gigi started her career as a model and show host with TVB and AM1430.
Besides working on TV and events, Gig enjoys her time doing volunteer work. She is the Vice President of Morning Light Foundation and President for the Hong Kong School Alumni Federation, both educational foundations helping scholars with financial need.
Gigi also hosts for many international and community organizations throughout California as well as politicians’ fundraising events. Gigi is a strong supporter for many charitable organizations and hosts many of their events including the Chinese American Museum, Chinese Parents Association for the Disabled and Chinese Christian Herald Crusades annually. Gigi has been a supporter and volunteer MC for AYC’s gala’s and other fundraising events for more than 10 years and we deeply appreciate her time, support, and friends.
Dee Dee Stephens is an actor/comedian, producer and acting coach. She plays the role of Kai in her 1st feature film entitled, 'My Name is Myeisha', which premiered at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival and won several awards on the film fest circuit since then. The movie was distributed with a wide release in early 2020. She received her MFA degree in Acting from University of Southern California in Los Angeles and she received her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley.
Recently getting into writing and producing, Dee Dee uses her voice as an actor on stage and in front of the camera to discuss tough social issues of race, mental health, and women’s rights to name a few. Her most recent project was a social justice piece entitled #ArtForGeorgeFloyd. Please check out the website: www.ArtForGeorgeFloyd.com
Dee Dee is a first-generation American, born to Caribbean parents and raised in San Jose, California.
You can find out more about Dee Dee on her website: DeeDeeStephens.com
Josie Hung is a 22-year-old Taiwanese American dizi (Chinese bamboo flute) player based in Southern California. She started playing dizi when she was 11 and is currently learning from Northern California-based dizi artist, George Xu (Xu Zhuo Ming). As a child, she performed at various local venues, including for the Chinese Consulate and at the inauguration of the Walnut City mayor. When she was 15, she played with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as their sole dizi player during their 2012 summer concert with the Peking Acrobats. She studied silver flute at Orange County School of the Arts and in 2015, she toured around Europe with the OCSA Symphony Orchestra, performing at Vienna’s Musikverein, Bratislava’s Slovak Radio Hall, and Prague’s Dvorak Rudolfinum. Josie studied Sociology at Swarthmore College and upon wanting to continue playing dizi, she started the college’s first Chinese Music Ensemble which went from a small performing group to an official Department Ensemble and for-credit course under ethnomusicologist, Lei Ouyang Bryant, and the Artistic Director of Music From China, Wang Guowei. Throughout her time in college, she performed three major dizi solos with the ensemble, performed alongside award-winning singer Dr. Peng Xu during her lecture demo, was invited to perform with a Philadelphia based erhu player and his ensemble at Longwood Gardens, and personally coordinated the ensemble’s performances at the Philadelphia Lantern Festival and Chinatown’s Mid-autumn Festival.
As her interests in music include scholarship as well as performance, she conducted fieldwork for a professor’s research project on the Swarthmore Chinese Music Ensemble and also co-wrote a paper on an ethnographic study of Swarthmore Taiko, Gamelan, and Chinese Music Ensemble for the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology Conference. She won First Place in Woodwinds in the 2017 United States International Music Competition (USIMC) and this summer, received the Young Artist Award for Chinese Flute Solo after placing first in the 2020 Canadian International Music Competition. Josie says that through the dizi, she has been able to not only explore her cultural heritage, but also the capacities of music for representation, expression, connection, and empowerment.
After graduating college in spring 2019, she spent this year training and performing taiko drumming in Hawaii with the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble as the 2019-2020 Fellow at the Taiko Center of the Pacific.
Gabriela Bonet is an actor who was born and raised in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She has performed in numerous theaters including Antaeus Theater, The Boston Court, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Film credits include Babymoon, and the Puerto Rican TV series Incognita 2. Gabriela holds a B.A. in Acting from the University of Puerto Rico and an MFA in Acting from the USC School of Dramatic Arts.