Press Release

November 14, 2019

Lincoln Center Honors Eleven Rising Talents Nominated by its Resident Organizations

Lincoln Center News

Lincoln Center Honors Eleven Rising Talents

Nominated by its Resident Organizations


The 2020 Emerging Artist Awards

Celebrated on February 26 at Alice Tully Hall


Sponsored by The Movado Group Foundation


NEW YORK (November 14, 2019) – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced today the 2020 class of Emerging Artists, recognizing diverse and exceptional talents from across all disciplines represented on its campus. Each recipient was nominated by the artistic leadership of one of Lincoln Center’s eleven resident organizations.


This year’s honorees join more than one hundred extraordinary artists who have been honored over the past three decades. The 2020 winners are:


  • Director Lileana Blain-Cruz (Lincoln Center Theater)


  • Violinist Stella Chen (The Juilliard School)


  • Mezzo-soprano singer Emily D’Angelo (The Metropolitan Opera)


  • Violinist Tessa Lark (Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts)


  • Dancer Ruby Lister (School of American Ballet)


  • Clarinetist Sebastian Manz (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center)


  • Trumpet player Riley Mulherkar (Jazz at Lincoln Center)


  • Filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu (Film at Lincoln Center)


  • Dancer Unity Phelan (New York City Ballet)


  • Composer Ellen Reid (New York Philharmonic)


  • Producer Jennifer Ashley Tepper (The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)


“The arts are fundamental to our world, and it is Lincoln Center’s responsibility to support the voices of diverse, fearless, and extraordinary artists,” said Henry Timms, President and CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “The Awards for Emerging Artists unite our campus organizations to celebrate those creatives who imagine big and take risks.”  


“The caliber of artists recognized by the Emerging Artists Awards is extraordinary year after year, and 2020’s cohort is a truly impressive and exceptionally talented group,” said Jane Moss, Ehrenkranz Artistic Director of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “Each winner has made significant strides in their field. We’re honored to support them as they grow into artistic leaders. Taken as a snapshot of the future of the performing arts, it looks very bright.”


The award winners will be recognized in a gala celebration on Wednesday, February 26 at Alice Tully Hall. Many of the Emerging Artists will perform and all will be in attendance.


Lincoln Center’s longtime partner, The Movado Group Foundation, is the presenting sponsor of the Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists evening. In addition to its financial support, the Foundation will provide a Movado watch to each of the award recipients.


“The Movado Group Foundation is thrilled to be a part of this program that celebrates and recognizes each recipient’s diverse talent and perspective,” said Mary Leach, Chief Marketing Officer, Movado Group, Inc. “We are so proud that we are able to partner with Lincoln Center in supporting these exceptional artists, whose voices will help to shape the future of the performing arts.”


Several of the recipients will be acknowledged with named awards. Riley Mulherkar and Ruby Lister will each receive a Martin E. Segal Award, which has annually recognized two artists of exceptional talent early in their careers since 1986. Tessa Lark will receive the Hunt Family Award, presented to the Emerging Artist nominated by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


The February 26 event raises money for the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund, which is celebrating 50 years providing unrestricted support for Lincoln Center’s constituent organizations. The funds raised support each constituent in presenting exciting new productions, engaging in creative educational programming, and hosting free performances across the Lincoln Center campus. Tickets for the gala fundraiser may be purchased here.


About the 2020 Lincoln Center Emerging Artists

Images and a full list of all Emerging Artist honorees may be accessed here.


Lileana Blain-Cruz, nominated by Lincoln Center Theater

“She is creating a body of work that rivals our most accomplished directors and will soon arrive at the top tiers of Broadway and beyond. She is among our finest theater artists, and is due for the sort of major recognition a prize like this can provide.”— Evan Cabnet (Artistic Director, LCT3)


Lileana Blain-Cruz is a theater director. Lincoln Center Theater credits include the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater production of Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline (Lucille Lortel Award nomination) and the LCT3 productions of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ War.  Most recently, she won the Obie Award and the Lucille Lortel Nomination for her production of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s Marys Seacole at LCT3. Other recent projects include Faust (Opera Omaha); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (Signature Theater); The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theater; Obie Award); Thunderbodies and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again (Soho Rep); The House That Will Not Stand and Red Speedo (New York Theatre Workshop); Henry IV Part One, Much Ado About Nothing (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and The Bluest Eye (Guthrie Theater). Lileana was awarded a 2018 United States Artist Fellowship.  She received her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama, and was an Artistic Associate of The Exchange and The Orchard Project, a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and an Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage. Upcoming projects include Fefu and Her Friends at TFANA and Anatomy of a Suicide at The Atlantic.


Stella Chen, nominated by The Juilliard School

“Stella's sophisticated brilliance as a young musician is equalled by her dynamic intelligence across fields. Her potential as an artist is unlimited and extraordinary.” — Damian Woetzel (President, The Juilliard School)


The winner of the 2019 Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition, American violinist Stella Chen has been lauded for her “phenomenal maturity” and “fresh and spontaneous, yet emotionally profound performance” (The Jerusalem Post). The 2019-2020 season marks debut performances at the Kronberg Academy, Ravinia Festival, and the Salzburg Mozarteum as well as tours of Europe, China, Korea, and Japan. She makes her Lincoln Center concerto debut at Alice Tully Hall on March 27, 2020 with The Juilliard Orchestra featuring Jörg Widmann’s Concerto No. 2, conducted by the composer. Other season highlights include debut performances with the Brussels Philharmonic, Belgian National Orchestra, and Luxembourg Philharmonia. Stella is also the first recipient of the Robert Levin Award from Harvard University, the top prize winner of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition and youngest ever prize winner of the Menuhin Competition. A graduate of the Harvard University/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program, Stella is currently a C.V. Starr doctoral candidate at The Juilliard School. Mentors include Li Lin, Itzhak Perlman, Donald Weilerstein, Catherine Cho, and Miriam Fried.


Tessa Lark, nominated by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

“Tessa Lark is a brilliant musical force who defies categorization. On and offstage, she conveys expressive warmth and grounded authenticity. She engages effortlessly with audiences.”— Jane Moss (Ehrenkranz Artistic Director, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts)


Violinist Tessa Lark has been consistently praised for her astounding range of sounds, technical agility, and musical elegance. Silver Medalist in the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, recipient of a 2018 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a 2016 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and winner of the 2012 Naumburg International Violin Competition, she is also an acclaimed fiddler in the tradition of her native Kentucky. She has performed with numerous prominent orchestras and at prestigious recital venues including Carnegie Hall, and she makes her debut this season in Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series. Three recordings featuring Ms. Lark were released in 2019: her solo debut album Fantasy, comprising her own Appalachian Fantasy and a variety of classic works in fantasia form; SKY, whose title selection is a violin concerto written for her by Michael Torke; and Invention, the debut album of her violin-bass duo Tessa Lark & Michael Thurber. She is a graduate of New England Conservatory and completed her Artist Diploma at The Juilliard School. Ms. Lark plays a ca. 1600 G.P. Maggini violin on loan from an anonymous donor through the Stradivari Society of Chicago. She is represented worldwide by New York-based Sciolino Artist Management.


Emily D’Angelo, nominated by The Metropolitan Opera

“We believe that Emily has the vocal talent, musical sensitivity and dramatic intensity to poise her for a promising career.” — Diane M. Zola (Assistant General Manager of Artistic, The Metropolitan Opera)


Canadian-Italian mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2018-19 season as The Second Lady in The Magic Flute. She recently made her role debut as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Glimmerglass Festival in a new production by Francesca Zambello. She made her professional operatic debut in 2016 at the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi as Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of James Conlon. She has been seen as Sœur Mathilde in Dialogues des Carmélites and Annio in La Clemenza di Tito at The Metropolitan Opera, and as Die Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Canadian Opera Company.  A winner of the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ms. D’Angelo has been the recipient of numerous awards, including: the 2018 George London Foundation Award; first prize at the 2017 Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition, the 2017 Canadian Opera Company Quilico Awards Competition, and the 2016 American National Opera Association Competition. In 2016 she was honored with the Premio Monini from the Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, was a recipient of the Jaqueline Desmarais Foundation Grant, and was named one of Canada's "Top 30 Under 30" Hot Classical Musicians.


Ruby Lister, nominated by School of American Ballet

There is a refreshing clarity, honesty and intelligence to Ruby's dancing.  She has a beautiful, elongated line and is highly musical.  She possesses tremendous potential for a successful career in dance and I see a very bright future for her ahead.” —Kay Mazzo (Chairman of Faculty, School of American Ballet)


Dancer Ruby Lister is an advanced student at the School of American Ballet (SAB).  Born in Seattle, Washington, she enrolled at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School at age 5 and performed often in company and school productions including Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.   After attending the School of American Ballet’s five-week Summer Course in 2017 and 2018, Lister was invited to enroll in SAB’s year-round residential program for pre-professional classical ballet students.  Now 16, she currently trains daily in the most advanced level while pursuing her academic studies at NYC’s Professional Performing Arts School. Lister created a ballet to music by Maurice Ravel as part of SAB’s 2019 Student Choreography Workshop. Born into a family of musicians, Lister enjoys playing piano and drums when not dancing.


Sebastian Manz, nominated by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center

“He demonstrates outstanding artistry with a great deal of energy, large technical capacity, and sensitivity as a collaborator. We are certain that he will contribute substantially to the artistic community and will be a significant voice throughout his career.”  — Wu Han (Co-Artistic Director, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center)


Clarinetist Sebastian Manz has been praised for his “enchantingly beautiful intonation and technical prowess” by Fono Forum. In the 2019/2020 season he performs as a soloist with major European orchestras such as the famous Camerata Salzburg and the Munich Chamber Orchestra. On the chamber music stage, he gives performances at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and will appear at different festivals including the prestigious festival Heidelberger Frühling in Germany and the Jazzfestival Viersen, collaborating with artists like Sebastian Studnitzky, Herbert Schuch, Sarah Christian, Julian Steckel, the wind quintet variation5, the Danish String Quartet, and the Armida Quartett. At the ARD International Music Competition in 2008, he won not only first prize in the clarinet category, which had not been awarded for 40 years, but also the coveted Audience Prize and other special prizes. He is solo clarinetist with the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart and artistic director of the festival :alpenarte. He is also active in the Rhapsody in School organization founded by Lars Vogt, which is committed to bringing classical music into schools. His recording of the complete works of Carl Maria von Weber was included in the list of the German Record Critics’ “Quarterly Critics Choice” and won an ECHO Classic award. He recently released his recording A Bernstein Story. Mr. Manz was born in Hanover and his teachers include the acclaimed clarinetists Sabine Meyer and Rainer Wehle. He is a member of The Bowers Program at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. 


Riley Mulherkar, nominated by Jazz at Lincoln Center

I first heard Riley when he was a freshman in high school. He shocked and delighted us with his playing. Over the years he has grown and matured into a first-class artist. Not only is he a fantastic trumpet player with an original style of improvising, he is an original bandleader, composer, arranger, educator, community activist and advocate for jazz and the arts.” —Wynton Marsalis (Managing & Artistic Director, Jazz at Lincoln Center)


Riley Mulherkar has been recognized as a “smart young trumpet player” by The New York Times and praised by The Wall Street Journal as a “youngster to keep an eye on.” Riley is a founding member of The Westerlies, a new music brass quartet that creates the rarest of hybrids: music that is both “folk-like and composerly, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music). Riley works with a number of leading artists of our time, including Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Alan Cumming, and Anna Deavere Smith. Riley also serves as Artistic Director for Jazz at Joye in Aiken, bringing leading young talent to the historic city of Aiken, South Carolina. Born and raised in Seattle, Riley moved to New York in 2010 to study at The Juilliard School, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in 2014 and his master’s in 2015. In 2011, Riley, alumnus of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival, was named a “rising jazz artist” by Wynton Marsalis in JET magazine, and in 2014 was the first recipient of the Laurie Frink Career Grant at the Festival of New Trumpet Music. Riley is an Edwards Artist and performs on Edwards trumpets. 


Akosua Adoma Owusu, nominated by Film at Lincoln Center

“Her work deftly explores questions of race, gender, identity, and consciousness with a style all her own, sophisticatedly melding experimental techniques and materials with distinctly contemporary topics and themes. She has rapidly established herself as someone to watch within the broader picture of world cinema, and the aesthetic originality and political incisiveness of her work makes her a more than worthy recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists.” —  Dennis Lim (Director of Programming, Film at Lincoln Center)


Born 1984, Akosua Adoma Owusu is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker whose films address a collision of identities, where the African immigrant located in America has a triple consciousness. Named by IndieWire as one of the 6 pre-eminent Avant-Garde Female Filmmakers Who Redefined Cinema, she has exhibited worldwide, including at the Centre Pompidou, Berlinale, Rotterdam, Locarno, Toronto, New Directors/New Films (NY), and London (BFI). She was a featured artist of the 56th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar programmed by renowned film curator and critic Dennis Lim. Her film Kwaku Ananse won the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Award. Her latest film White Afro won the Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Prize at the 2019 Locarno Film Festival. Her work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. She has received fellowships and grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Westridge Foundation, Creative Capital, the MacDowell Colony, the Camargo Foundation, the Goethe-Institut Salvador-Bahia and most recently from the Residency Program at the Villa Sträuli in Winterthur. Currently, she divides her time between Ghana and New York, where she works as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. 


Unity Phelan, nominated by New York City Ballet

“With deep intelligence, she knows how to cultivate her own unique artistry toward shaping, developing and interpreting the full spectrum of our masterful repertoire. She has become one of our most in-demand dancers and has an exciting future ahead.”—Jonathan Stafford (Artistic Director, New York City Ballet)


Unity Phelan is a soloist with New York City Ballet. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, she began her dance training at the age of five at the Princeton Ballet School. During the summers of 2008 and 2009, Ms. Phelan attended the summer sessions at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, and she enrolled as a full-time student in fall of 2009. Ms. Phelan became an apprentice with NYCB in December 2012 and joined the Company as a member of the corps de ballet in November 2013. She was promoted to soloist in February 2017. Since joining NYCB, she has performed featured roles in numerous ballets by George Balanchine, Robert Binet, William Forsythe, Lauren Lovette, Peter Martins, Matthew Neenan, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, Jerome Robbins, and Christopher Wheeldon. She was recently featured as the Ballerina in the feature film John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, choreographed by NYCB principal dancer Tiler Peck.


Ellen Reid, nominated by New York Philharmonic

“A composer and sound artist who incorporates diverse musical influences, Ellen Reid has emerged as one of the most innovative voices in the contemporary music scene today. The New York Philharmonic looks forward to premiering one of Ellen’s first major orchestral commissions as part of the Philharmonic’s Project 19 initiative.”—Deborah Borda (President and CEO, New York Philharmonic)


Ellen Reid is one of the most innovative artists of her generation. A composer and sound artist whose breadth of work spans opera, sound design, film scoring, ensemble and choral writing, she was awarded the the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her opera, prism. Along with composer Missy Mazzoli, Ellen co-founded the Luna Composition Lab. Luna Lab is a mentorship program for young, female-identifying, non-binary, and gender nonconforming composers. Since the fall of 2019, she has served as Creative Advisor and Composer-in-Residence for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. The New York Philharmonic has commissioned a work by her to be premiered in February 2020 as part of its Project 19 initiative. Ellen received her BFA from Columbia University and her MA from California Institute of the Arts. She is inspired by music from all over the globe, and she splits her time between her two favorite cities – Los Angeles and New York. Her music is released on Decca Gold.


Jennifer Ashley Tepper, nominated by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

“As the Library celebrates the artistic achievements of the great producer and director Harold Prince, it feels fitting to honor a young artist who reminds us of his talent and vision for the future of theatre.” —  Brent Reidy (Interim Executive Director, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)


Jennifer Ashley Tepper is producer of the musicals Be More Chill, Broadway Bounty Hunter, and Love In Hate Nation, all recent projects that are part of a decade-long collaboration with the group known as Joe Iconis & Family. She is also the Creative and Programming Director at Feinstein’s/54 Below, co-creator of the Bistro Award-winning concert series celebrating under-appreciated musicals, If It Only Even Runs A Minute, and conceiver and director of?The Jonathan Larson Project. As a writer, Tepper?has authored three volumes of The Untold Stories of Broadway book series. Her other Broadway credits include [title of show], The Performers, Godspell, Macbeth, and The Parisian Woman. As a theatre historian and producer, she has continually championed both under-appreciated musicals and new musicals. Tepper was named one of the 10 professionals on Backstage's "1st Annual Broadway Future Power List", which stated: "Proving herself both a zeitgeist predictor and theatrical historian with her eclectic programming, Tepper is leading the conversation on contemporary musical theatre." 


About the Awards

The Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists is a centerpiece of Lincoln Center’s commitment to supporting rising artists and their developing craft. Bringing together the entire Lincoln Center campus, each constituent organization nominates an artist to join the more than one hundred that have received the honor over the past three decades. The artists receive the Award, along with $7500 for professional support, and a timepiece gift from the Movado Group Foundation, the Awards’ presenting sponsor. The Emerging Artist Awards were originally named the Martin E. Segal Awards and established in 1986 by the Board of Directors in honor of the arts leader and former Lincoln Center chairman and his commitment to rising talents. The Segal Award continues to be presented to two emerging artists, rotated annually among resident organizations.


The Hunt Family Award, endowed by Lincoln Center Board member David Hunt, his wife, Alice, and his brother, Bruce, is given annually to a classical artist honoree nominated by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This award was established as a testament to the Hunt family’s long dedication to the performing arts, beginning with David’s parents, Margot and Alan. The award marks the family’s commitment to budding talent at Lincoln Center and celebrates rising stars at the annual Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists.


A full list of all Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artist Honorees may be accessed here.


About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) serves three primary roles: presenter of artistic programming, national leader in arts and education and community engagement, and manager of the Lincoln Center campus. A presenter of thousands of free and ticketed events, performances, tours, and educational activities annually, LCPA offers a variety of festivals and programs, including American Songbook, Avery Fisher Career Grants and Artist program, David Rubenstein Atrium programming, Great Performers, Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Awards, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Lincoln Center Vera List Art Project, LC Kids, Midsummer Night Swing, Mostly Mozart Festival, White Light Festival, the Emmy Award–winning Live From Lincoln Center, which airs nationally on PBS, and Lincoln Center Education, which is celebrating more than four decades enriching the lives of students, educators, and lifelong learners. As manager of the Lincoln Center campus, LCPA provides support and services for the Lincoln Center complex and the 11 resident organizations: the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film at Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center Theater, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, School of American Ballet, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


Lincoln Center is committed to providing and improving accessibility for people with disabilities. For information, contact Accessibility at Lincoln Center at [email protected] or 212.875.5375.






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