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Release No. COC-05.23.17-JustinHorwitz
May 23, 2017

Graduating Music Student Receives $21,000 Scholarship
College of the Canyons music student Justin Horwitz is one step close to his goal of becoming a music director thanks to a $21,000 transfer scholarship to Rider University in New Jersey. 

Unaware that the university offered talent scholarships, the 22-year-old was surprised by the scholarship offer, which was based on his performance during a recent audition.

“If I had known, I probably would have been more nervous for my audition,” said the Valencia resident who will be graduating from COC in June.  

Horwitz started playing piano when he was eight years old, but it wasn’t until he played piano in a production of “Into the Woods” at the age of 15 that he discovered his love for theatre. 
“Music is an aesthetic to my identity as an artist as opposed to theatre, which forms the core of it,” said Horwitz, who realized he could marry his two passions as a musical director. “In theatre, this is traditionally the person whose job is to bridge the gap between two worlds — theatre and music — which need to symbiotically exist in order for musical theatre to function.”

Being able to float between the college’s music and theatre departments has been instrumental to his training, which includes the ability to analyze music and function as part of an ensemble.

“For someone who wants to do what I do, understanding the beats and changes an actor makes to communicate a thought, is just as important as being able to analyze the harmonic structures a composer uses to communicate the very same idea,” said Horwitz. “I feel very lucky to have had great teachers.”

Among those who guided Justin at COC is Dr. Carmen Dominguez, dean of the college’s School of Visual and Performing Arts, who helped Horwitz develop skills to be a better accompanist and provided him with the opportunity to learn from experienced music directors. 

“Justin is the rare student who, in addition to having strong piano technique and musical talent, also works diligently to expand his musical theatre repertoire,” said Dominguez. “He works every day learning new music from every era of musical theatre. He has tremendous potential to succeed.” 

Six days out of the week, Horwitz can be found sitting at the piano in the Pico Hall practice room, practicing for up to five hours. 

“For musicians, practice rooms often become sanctuaries — safe spaces — and I'll miss the one I use at COC,” said Horwitz. “I've grown a lot in there.”