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Young performers light up the night

Michael R. Malone The Children’s Trust | 5/15/2014, 9 a.m.
Abdias Armenteros won top prize for Individual Musical Instrument

Somewhere in the middle of his performance, as his fingers were zipping over the saxophone keys, Abdias Armenteros heard the audience begin clapping in time.

“Wow, the crowd was great, and to hear them clap really helped me. I don’t usually get that kind of vibe,” said Armenteros, 15 and a student at Miami Union Academy in NW Miami. The judges were as impressed as the live audience at the Young Talent Big Dreams Finals and awarded Armenteros first prize in the Individual Musical Instrument category. This year marked the fourth and most ambitious rendition of the countywide talent contest, coordinated by the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre and sponsored by The Children’s Trust.

Armenteros entered the contest hoping to get some exposure for his musical talent. With the prize money, master classes and the opportunity to attend performances around town, he gained much more.

“I have a few friends who draw or paint, but almost no one who’s a musician. In the competition, I met lots of other young people like myself who are musically talented,” said Armenteros. The 9th grader will attend New World School of the Arts next fall where he’ll have the chance to advance his talent and also to continue his new friendship with Tyler Goodman, a clarinetist who Armenteros edged out in the contest.

Armenteros was one of the team of 2014 Young Talent Big Dreams winners and finalists that was more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before.

Joseph Thomas III, 9, and Maya Dubose, 16, joined overall Grand Prize Winner David Woodward, also 16, on stage as finalists for the Individual Spoken Word category. Bobby Bush, a 13-year-old classical guitarist was a finalist for Individual Original Composition. BG Harmonies, comprised Bush, 13, and his siblings – Gabrielle, 17; Grace, 16; Benjamin, 11; and Giah, 8 – was a finalist for Group Musical Instrument. Thomas Armour’s Youth Ballet Tap Team, a finalist for Group Dance, was also well represented with Black youth.  

David Williams, a councilman for the City of Miami Gardens, was a principal promoter of the contest in the community.

“The quality of this competition – the opportunity to compete multi-ethnically, the judging, the exposure – all set Young Talent Big Dreams apart. This is not the typical competition where you have some friends getting together,” Williams said. “The judges, who themselves were very diverse, really understand their business, both from an educational standpoint and an artistic one.”

Williams said he hopes organizers will return next year to Betty T. Ferguson and to continue to expand the reach of Young Talent Big Dreams in the Black community.

David Woodward, a junior, was named the overall Grand Prize Winner of Young Talent Big Dreams. Woodward received $500 in cash and a free trip for two – air fare, hotel and passes – to attend the live American Idol finale in Los Angeles, courtesy of WSVN Channel 7.

Winners were chosen for each of the categories, and 27 acts competed in all in the finals held Saturday, May 3 at the Actor’s Playhouse.