Alums at work!

July 5, 2011 at 9:55 am 1 comment

–From Doug Ashcraft, Dean of the Arts

It’s now the middle of summer and the campus is very quiet! At least for me—there are dozens of campers around—but not my responsibility! So recently I’ve turned my attention to former students, a group of them have been helping me with some research I’ve been doing–more on that in a future installment. Others are reconnecting for other reasons and two of them I had the great pleasure recently of seeing in professional musical theatre productions. Sarah Combs is currently the princess and is also the undertstudy for Christine in the Las Vegas production of Phantom of the Opera. Justin Scott Brown plays Marius in the 25th Anniversary tour of Les Misérables, currently in a six week run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. These productions were great, and Sarah and Justin both are great young pros. Sometimes it’s hard for those of us up here on the mountain to keep up with our alums that are out in the world. Sure, we facebook and talk on the phone sometimes. But face-to-face visits are rare: even though many consider Idyllwild home, they actually go and VISIT the place where their parents live. Go figure.

Anyway, it’s even more rare that we get opportunities to see our students WORK after they’ve left us. Although many of our former kids are out there making a living in a craft that they prepared for at Idyllwild Arts, it’s pretty rare that they come back and do it at Idyllwild. An exception might be the occasional music recital or other performance.

So it’s always fun to see where they end up. These two former students are doing EXACTLY what I would have thought they’d end up doing. These are two people that worked. They worked when they were here, they worked after they left. They knew what they wanted and they worked until they got it. I’m sure people say things about luck and being in the right place, blah, blah, blah. But really, what good would that have been if either hadn’t been prepared and hadn’t trained to go on stage with the voice, acting ability night after night? Les Miz is a three hour show! Last week, I heard that Sarah had to gone on as Christine twice in one evening!

I see a lot people wringing their hands and muttering about the lack of careers in the arts and how you have to be prepared to do something else. It may be a decent idea to have a back up set of skills, but something recently happened that really got me thinking. A student who wanted to be an artist left our school because he felt he needed better math and science skills so he could have a back-up career in case he didn’t make it. What?
So you’re going to pour your heart and energy into training for the back-up career and not the dream career? Seems like a perfect formula to be a success at the second choice if you ask me… I guess this is probably someone who wouldn’t have made it anyway because they didn’t want it badly enough and didn’t imagine they’d be successful. Or maybe it was the parents who didn’t see the dream clearly enough.

So the lesson from Sarah and Justin seems pretty clear to me. Be smart, see the dream, put you head down and get to work. Be ready when that opportunity comes.

Entry filed under: Music Stuff.

Farewell Idyllwild – Commencement Poem, Class of 2011 Education and the Visual Arts

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Patricia Goudge  |  July 11, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Something I tell my kids is that there is only one way to ensure that you will not get an opportunity that you desire, and that is to not apply for the opportunity.


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July 2011


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