For junior Lily Kaufmann, summers have always been spent on stage. Whether it was a dance recital or a musical at Baker University, Kaufmann has always embraced the heat and devoted those two long months to doing what she loves best: musical theater.
This summer, Kaufmann will not only be in a production of Legally Blonde the Musical at Theater in the Park, but she will also journey over 800 miles to spend three weeks at the prestigious Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.
Interlochen, a liberal arts camp in Interlochen, Michigan, has seen notable attendees such as Josh Groban, Norah Jones and Bob Dylan. The camp targets students of all ages, from juniors in elementary school, high school students and an “academy,” or boarding school, where high schoolers can take specific focus classes on their art of choice.
“I am looking forward to meeting so many people that are interested in the same thing as me and people that are as dedicated and want to go into it as a profession,” Kaufmann said. “I’m looking forward to being surrounded with competition so that I know where I fit in terms of when I get there later in life and so I can see where I really shine so that I can be successful.”
Interlochen provides a variety of programs based on length of time and intensiveness. These programs incorporate classes with specific instruction for their intended major from qualified professors like Jason Banks, who has designed lighting for A-List concerts such as Boys 2 Men and Smashmouth or Philip Dikeman, the associate director of flute at The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.
These professors factor into why Kaufmann was interested in the camp.
“My mom has gotten really good this year about researching things for me,” Kaufmann said. “I’m going into senior year and she’s really big on wanting me to have all the credentials to A, get into the colleges that I want, B, get in to the musical theater programs that I want and, C, get the scholarships that I want.”
[media-credit id=192 align="alignleft" width="224"][/media-credit]What sold Kaufmann on Interlochen, other than prestige of the camp, was her voice teacher and alumni of the camp, Melinda McDonald, who convinced Kaufmann to make Interlochen a priority for the summer.
“I went to her and she told me how she went there as a kid and how amazing it is and how much it will help me,” Kaufmann said. “She told me if there was anything else that you want to do to put it after Interlochen, make time for Interlochen, make money for Interlochen, do whatever you can to get to Interlochen.”
Unfortunately, when Kaufmann found out that she could still apply for Interlochen, she was about to embark on a ten day trip to Italy with the East Choraliers.
When she returned from Italy, Kaufmann started right in on her tape. She had to sing two 16-bar songs, one ballad and one more up-tempo Broadway song.
For her audition, Kufman sang the Alto’s Lament, an upbeat song that she has performed for auditions before. For her ballad Kaufmann sang “Simple Little Things” for the musical 101 and the Shade.
Then, since the application encouraged dance experience, Kaufmann used the East dance room and had her mom film a short choreographed dance to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” that showed off all her leaps, turns and fluidity.Within five days the campus administration emailed Kaufmann with her acceptance into the three-week theater program and a merit based scholarship offer for $750.
With her acceptance Kaufmann also found out she would be overlapping programs with fellow junior Emma
Reno, who will be attending the six-week Orchestra and Wind Ensemble summer program for the flute.
While on a family vacation to Michigan, Reno and her mom took a day to visit Interlochen and explore the campus.
“I had never heard of it before, I didn’t realize how prestigious it was,” Reno said. “But after I did all my research on Interlochen and found out it’s kind of a big deal, I was like, OK I need to do this now.”
For her application Reno, like Kaufmann, had to do a video recording of two songs that had to be selected from a list of specific repertoire that Interlochen provided.
Since Reno wanted the best sound quality for her audition she reserved time in UMKC’s White Recital Hall and hired a professional to record her performance. Reno was accepted, but wasn’t given any of the financial aid or scholarships that she was hoping for. So, when Interlochen announced that they were holding an online contest for any accepted student, who hadn’t gotten any financial aid, Reno knew it would be perfect for her. Reno made a video of herself performing “Strength” and added a blues solo that she wrote, naming it “It’s a Blue Day for Pan.”
With votes pouring in Reno thought that she actually might have a chance at winning sound check which included full tuition, travel, uniforms and laundry—over $8,000 total. Reno ended up not winning the Sound Check contest but still wanted to attend the camp.
She now had to figure out a way to pay for Interlochen herself. Combining her life savings, donations from her grandfather and her parent’s friends, plus money she had saved up from working at the Tune Shop in Prairie Village, Reno was able to raise $6,300. Her parents agreed to pay the rest.
With her application turned in, Reno turned to fellow orchestra member junior Ali Felman who attended Interlochen last summer in the six-week Orchestra program for viola.
“I was excited for her when I heard because you know I want people at East to get the same experience that I had,” Felman said.
Felman had heard about Interlochen from a poster in her 7th grade orchestra class. When she got home that day and googled the camp it instantly became a dream.
“It’s really prestigious and I knew that I would learn a lot while gaining that camp experience,” Felman said. “I just kept reading about how it changed peoples lives and I wanted it to change mine.”
After applying Felman was fortunate enough to receive a $1,500 scholarship — something she knows really helped her out.
When summer rolled around and Felman had finally arrived at Interlochen she felt and immediate sense of welcome and companionship.
“Everyone there is so nice and welcoming,” Felman said. “You walked into the camp and felt an instant bond.”
Financially it didn’t work for Felman to go back again this summer but she hopes to return the summer after that or maybe in her college years.
“I learned to much technically about viola and about how to be more professional and how to be a better section leader,” Felman said. “I leaned how music can help people communicate and bring people together.”
All three girls know how much Interlochen will help them in the future.
“Interlochen is not only a great learning experience but is also definitely a good resume builder that can help me get into the colleges that I want,” Reno said.
Both Kaufmann and Reno know that although they might be some of the best for Kansas City, Interlochen will be a good reality check.
“Right now I’m kind of in this bubble where I get parts and I’m considered good,” Kaufmann said. “But when I get there I’m going to realize that this is what the real world is like and what I’m going to be up against on Broadway.”
At Interlochen this summer Kaufmann might be doing theater and Reno might be doing orchestra but in the end they’ll both reap the same benefits.
“I’m going to be at a camp with the world’s best,” Reno said. “And that’s going to be life changing.”