Motifs: April 2023

We’d love to hear from you! Submit your own motif.

Margo Jefferson (IAC/NMC 60-62) released her third book, Constructing a Nervous System, on March 3, 2022. The book, which was reviewed by noted publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian, is shortlisted for the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize in nonfiction and was named one of Time’s “100 Must-Read Books of 2022.”

Stephanie Sheppard (IAA 62-65) was a charter member of Interlochen Arts Academy in 1962. In 2022, Sheppard was approached by Longtail Films in England to do a documentary about her songwriting for Nina Simone in 1970. Sheppard was a performing folk singer in New York coffee houses at age 14. The hardships of being a songwriter hit her hard, with setbacks and tears; but this film provided an opportunity for a late blossoming of triumphant success. The documentary streamed on March 18, 2023 and can be viewed online.

Guillermo Figueroa (IAC/NMC 67-70) was recently the soloist for the Santa Barbara Symphony’s performance of El viaje de una vida (The Journey of a Lifetime), a concerto for violin and orchestra by Uruguayan-born, Grammy Award-nominated American composer Miguel del Águila. The Principal Conductor of the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus, Figueroa also serves as Music Director of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado and Music Director of the Lynn Philharmonia in Florida. Figueroa is the founder of the highly acclaimed Figueroa Music and Arts Project in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He previously served as Music Director of both the New Mexico Symphony and the Puerto Rico Symphony.

Victoria Clark (IAC/NMC 77) released December Songs for Voice and Orchestra with P.S. Classics on Oct. 17, 2022. Clark is currently starring as the titular character in Kimberly Akimbo at the Booth Theater and can be heard on the show’s original cast album, which was released on Feb. 14, 2023.

Christine Smith (IAA 87-88, ICA St 93-95) celebrated 15 years with the United States Government on Jan. 26, 2023. She relocated to Blissfield, Michigan, where she'll continue her company, Khazana USA, LLC. The company celebrates Afghan and Pakistani cuisine through Smith’s cookbook, Cuisine of the Silk Road, and by producing small-batch freshly ground spices. Khazana USA, LLC will also begin hosting talks about the region through the lens of its food in February of 2023.

Rufus Wainwright (IAC 90) and Kaoru Watanabe (IAC 92, IAA 92-93) recently appeared on Speaking Soundly, a backstage music podcast hosted by Metropolitan Opera Principal Trumpet and Interlochen alumnus David Krauss (IAC/NMC 86-87).

Ben Epstein (IAC 91-95, 97-98) wrote and directed Who Are You People, which was released by Gravitas Ventures on PVOD (premium video on demand) and in select theaters on Feb. 24, 2023. The feature film stars Ema Horvath (IAC 08; IAA 10-12; IAC St 12, 16), Devon Sawa (Chucky), Alyssa Milano (Charmed), and Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons).

Norah Jones (IAC 94-95) recently spoke with The Daily Beast about her experiences with the Grammy Awards over the past 20 years, including her four-award sweep in 2003 and her current nomination.

Ryan Scarlata (IAC 00) was recently named the Managing Artistic Director of Stageworks Theatre in Houston, Texas.

Sally Newton (IAA 02-04, IAC St 03-07) and Benjamin Cutler got engaged on Dottie’s Deck, just past the Stone Hotel, overlooking Green Lake on July 25, 2022. The couple are now happily married and living in Jacksonville, Florida. They continue to work in blind rehabilitation.

Sean Carney (IAC 04, IAC St 06) is a singer/songwriter now based in Los Angeles, California. A successful artist, Carney performs with his band, WOLVES, and as a solo artist. Music by WOLVES has appeared in the F9: The Fast Saga trailer, the NBA, the MLB, and more. WOLVES recently performed at the arena in Los Angeles. Interlochen changed Carney’s life by introducing him to world-class music.

Chad Engel (IAA 07-09) serves as a producer for Hulu’s Only Murders in the Building: One Killer Question, which recently won the 2023 Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Short Form Program. Engel was also a producer for the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars on Disney+.

Richie Siegel (IAA 10-12) is the co-founder of the Inevitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to close the disability representation gap in film and TV writer’s rooms. The foundation recently partnered with talent agency WME to increase development and employment opportunities for entertainment writers with disabilities. The foundation’s open letter to the entertainment industry was supported by notable Hollywood stars including Marlee Matlin, Ramy Youssef, Lauren Ridloff, Ryan O’Connell, and Ali Stoker.

Bassist Nina Bernat (IAC 11) and the Isidore String Quartet, which features cellist Joshua McClendon (IAC 10-15, IAA 15-18), were selected as recipients of the 2023 Avery Fisher Career Grant. Avery Fisher Career Grants are awarded annually to give professional assistance and recognition to talented young musicians and chamber ensembles. Each recipient receives a $25,000 grant as well as a professional recording of their Career Grant ceremony performance for their unrestricted use.

Cobby Brzeski (IAC 11-12, IAA 12-13) recently released her first album, Vintage Girl in a Modern World, which was nominated for the San Diego Music Award for Best Jazz Album of the Year. A flutist, vocalist, and singer-songwriter, Brzewski studied at Berklee College of Music and has spent the past several years performing in southern California. She is currently planning a tour in support of Vintage Girl in a Modern World.

Alexander Ishov (IAA 11-13, IAC 12) was recently appointed to the Flute Fellowship position with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. Ishov is currently a D.M.A. candidate in contemporary music at UC San Diego and works at the intersection of audio technology, instrument design, and listening with his research initiative, PrismaSonus. Ishov and composer Theocharis Papatrechas created a 3D audio installation, “Morphés,” which was recently featured at the Qualcomm Institute’s IDEAS Festival.

Paris Manzanares (IAC 19, IAA 20-22) began working professionally as an actor following her graduation from Interlochen Arts Academy, landing the roles of “Sally Bowles” in Cabaret and “Abigail Williams” in The Crucible at Parallel 45 Theatre. Her work has been featured in national publications such as The Seattle Times and BroadwayWorld. Most recently, she is starting as “Lizzie Curry” in Seattle Public and Reboot Theatre’s co-production of 110 in The Shade.