Preparing Young Artists for Life, On Stage and Off

Crescendo issue: May 2014
  • Kyle during his Academy years (on the left) and during his most recent visit.
On April 3, Kyle Ballarta (IAA 03-04) was the guest speaker for the senior honors community meeting, hosted by the office of alumni engagement.

He shared how his one year at Interlochen prepared him for much more than performing on the stage as a musician: it prepared him to face some life-altering challenges in the years after his graduation. Now, ten years later, Kyle is giving two young artists a chance to experience the transformative power of Interlochen this summer.

After graduating from Interlochen in 2004, Kyle attended California Institute of the Arts to continue his music studies with plans to pursue a career as a professional trumpet player. That all changed when an injury led to two months of hospitalization and two lung surgeries--devastating for a young trumpet player. At age 20, Kyle had to rethink his plan. That’s when he realized that being an artist isn’t about performance. Being an artist is a way of looking at life, and even as he turned his focus to the world of business, he committed to live his life as an artist.

“Artists are so familiar with navigating the unknown and the uncertain because they are pioneers, creators, and innovators. Learning how to be an artist at Interlochen taught me to translate this creative curiosity to everything I do,” Kyle said, explaining how Interlochen prepared him to transform his life after his injury.

That creative curiosity led Kyle to join up with the small team that created LifeProof, a line of smartphone and tablet cases designed to withstand extreme conditions. The product took off, and Kyle was offered a long-term position that would have provided him with stability and status in the tech world. Instead, he opted to leave the company for a more flexible future.

“Interlochen always gave me a creative curiosity where I was no longer satisfied with just answers but, instead, was excited by the questions,” Kyle said. “Within the questions lies a world of possibilities.” Now, a year after leaving LifeProof, Kyle is partnering with other innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new models for businesses and communities to work together for social good.

Earlier this year, Kyle established a scholarship that will allow two young artists to attend Interlochen Arts Camp this summer. Both students are part of A Reason to Survive (ARTS) in San Diego, California, a program that uses the arts as a vehicle to create long-lasting change for children facing major life challenges. Kyle is thrilled to be helping these two students.

“Neither of them has been on a plane or outside the state of California,” Kyle said. “Interlochen will expose them to a whole new world of friendships and possibilities, something that might have never been possible to them if Interlochen wasn’t an option.”  

“It’s important to support Interlochen because talent is not always tied to wealth. That is the beauty of art: it is not predetermined by social and economic classes,” Kyle said, explaining why giving to Interlochen is a priority for him. Like his own scholarship recipients, he never would have been able to attend Interlochen without scholarship support. Kyle also pointed out that alumni play a special role in supporting Interlochen.

“We are all stakeholders in Interlochen's success, and as alumni we must be stewards in sharing this special place with future students to come. There are no better stakeholders to participate in the growth of Interlochen than its alumni. It is only natural for us to give back to a special place that has given us so much.”  

Reflecting on his own Interlochen experience, Kyle said, “Looking back to my path, Interlochen played the most pivotal part in my journey. It was the first place I finally became an artist. If it were not for my time at Interlochen, then I would have never ended up where I am today.” Thanks to Kyle’s scholarship commitment and the gifts of all of our donors, Interlochen continues to prepare young artists for their future, on and off the stage.

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