The Howard County Arts Council (HCAC) will celebrate 35 years of fostering the arts at the 19th Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County on Saturday, March 19, at the Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College (HCC), Columbia. Elizabeth and Kenneth Lundeen, long-time patrons of the arts in Howard County, will serve as honorary chairs for the event; and Dick Story, senior vice president, community relations and government affairs, and business development liaison for Howard Bank, will serve as emcee.

The celebration is a multi-faceted event showcasing and promoting the arts and raising funds in support of the arts, artists and arts organizations in Howard County.

The evening will begin with a reception featuring edibles provided by area restaurants and caterers, a silent auction of artwork by local artists and musical performances in the Studio Theatre. At 8 p.m. guests will be invited to take a seat in the Smith Theatre for the live presentation of the 2015 Howie Awards and the 2016 Rising Star Competition, or they can view the show via simulcast in the Studio Theatre.

A highlight of the gala is the Rising Star Emerging Performing Artist Award Competition, in which up to 10 finalists compete for a cash prize of $5,000.

In November, individual performing artists, ages 18 to 35 — auditioned before a panel of professionals in their discipline. The winner of the Rising Star Competition will be selected by the celebration audience of artists, arts patrons, business and political representatives and community members, with the award presented live on stage that evening.

The 10 finalists performing at the celebration are the following:

  1. Monica Albizo, musical theater
  2. Mark Edwards, classical guitar
  3. Crystal Freeman, musical theatere
  4. Joshua Hughes, musical theater
  5. Jenny Lehtonen, flute
  6. Esther Oh, classical voice
  7. Cody Quattlebaum, classical voice
  8. Elizabeth Rayca, musical theater
  9. Luke Spence, classical trumpet
  10. Shing Ann Yeh, cello

Elizabeth and Kenneth Lundeen, long-time patrons of the arts in Howard County, will serve as honorary chairs. Dick Story of Howard Bank will serve as event emcee.

The 2015 Howie Awards also will be presented on the Main Stage. These are given annually to an Outstanding Artist, Outstanding Arts Educator, and Outstanding Business or Community Supporter of the Arts. Nominees are judged on their contributions and the significant impact they’ve had on the artistic life of Howard County.

Tickets to the 19th Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County are available at or by calling the HCAC at 410-313-2787. Other requests can be directed to [email protected].