Motifs: September 2023

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Arega Ali (IAC/NMC 66; IAA 66-67; IAC/NMC St 67, 73, 76) recently retired after teaching music for 28 years in the Los Angeles Public Schools.

Doug Whipple (IAA 73-75) and his daughter Lily co-authored the young adult fantasy novel When Universes Bleed, which was released in September 2022. The book was a finalist for the 2023 National Indie Excellence Award for YA Fiction.

Scott Burgess (IAA 78-82) spent his sixth summer at the Aspen Music Festival and School, during which he served for his third year as the Festival’s Chief Audio Engineer and Livestream Director.

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Ron Blake (IAC/NMC 79-81; IAA 80-82; IAC Fac 86, 11) will release his latest album, Mistaken Identity, on Oct. 13, 2023. The album, a collaboration with renowned guitarist Bobby Broom, is Blake’s first new album in 15 years. He is best known for his work as a member of the Christian McBride Big Band and Saturday Night Live’s house band.

Christina Edgar Olds (IAA 81-82) released her second novel, The First Summer, on July 9, 2023. The romance novel reached number 89 on Amazon’s recommended list for women’s fiction.

Angie Kim (IAC 84-87) released her second novel, Happiness Falls, on Aug. 29, 2023. The novel was selected as the Good Morning America Book Club pick for September.

Ana Papakhian (IAC/NMC 85, IAA 85-86) was appointed Executive Director of chamber music collective Camerata Pacifica in June. Papakhian also serves as the Vice President of the Interlochen Center for the Arts Engagement Council.

Scott Lefurgy (AS 88-89, IAC 90-93, IAC St 94) was promoted to Full Professor of Chemistry at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.

Cynthia Ellingsen (IAA 94-95, IAC St 95) released her ninth novel, A Play for Revenge, on Sept. 12, 2023. The fourth novel in Ellingsen’s best-selling Starlight Cove series, the book is set in northern Michigan and follows a decades-old mystery at the famed Starlight Cove Playhouse.

Douglas A. Schrock (AS 00) released his novel, Meet Me By The Lane, in February 2022. The book is described as a “spectacular, heartbreaking, controversial, and altogether realistic epic story of the Apocalypse through the eyes of the Antichrist himself.” Print and Kindle editions of Meet Me By The Lane are available through

RJ Magee (IAC 02-05, IAA 06-08) recently began his appointment as Visiting Assistant Professor of Acting at Longwood University's Department of Theatre, Art, and Graphic Animation & Design. Professor Lauren Rice (IAC Fac 09-12), former Interlochen Arts Camp visual arts faculty member, is among his teaching colleagues. Magee looks forward to establishing a relationship between Interlochen and Longwood's outstanding arts programs.

Dirén Checa (IAC 07-11, IAA 11-15, IAC St 18) has grown her journey as a violinist into a career as a contemporary music soloist. Her current project, Music of Sound, is a series of accessible “sound experiences” composed of new works for solo violin and violin and electronics. She is currently based in Mexico City.

BJ Griffin (IAC Fac 11-12) performed a cello and voice cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” on America’s Got Talent on July 18. Griffin received a standing ovation from the crowd and the competition’s four judges and advanced to the next round of the popular talent competition.

Jaxon Muller (IAA 11-12) appears as a U.S. Marshall in Martin Scorcese’s forthcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon. The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, and Brendan Fraser, will be released on Oct. 20, 2023.

Joseph Skerik (IAC 13, IAA 14-18) was appointed the new violist of the Vega Quartet in August. The award-winning quartet currently serves as quartet-in-residence at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charlotte Shao’s (IAA 15-18) runway collection, “Eternal Return,” was featured in New York Fashion Week’s SS24 Designer Showcase on Sept. 11. Shao established her personal brand, SISIO, in summer 2018 and is currently a student at Parson School of Design.

Ariana Dickerson (IAA 15-19) has joined Dance Theatre of Harlem as a Company Dancer. Dickerson recently graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet with an outside field in media advertising.