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Kara Huber, Interlochen’s Marjorie Wood Drackett Piano Chair, brings accolades and fresh perspective to her position

Her students are winning awards and getting into top schools—and they share her passion for celebrating female composers.

A group of students and teachers poses outside Interlochen's Music building.

Kara Huber (far left) poses with IAA piano majors and fellow instructor TJ Lymenstull (far right). 

Kara Huber

Kara Huber came to Interlochen in 2022 as an alumna of Arts Academy, ready to carry on the work of her beloved piano teacher Michael Coonrod. But in the nearly two years she’s worked here, she’s done much more than that. Huber has made her own mark as a teacher who balances technical rigor with genuine care for her students. And she’s seeing some impressive results from her work.

“My studio this year is so stellar,” Huber says. “They're strong pianists, but they're also just wonderful young people. They’re a joy to work with, and they're super eager too.”

This year, Huber guided senior student Kene Obiaya to garner a third-place finish in the first Nina Simone Piano Competition, which is dedicated to advancing young African American pianists. Another senior, Beckler Whittaker, received an honorable mention in Michigan’s Music Teachers National Association.

In addition, last year’s seniors are excelling at top colleges. They include Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, University of Southern California, New England Conservatory, and San Francisco Conservatory, among others.

But it’s not just these accolades that make Huber’s impact so deeply felt. Her students praise her for being both tough and caring.

“She’s a little bit strict when she needs to be strict, but she also listens to us a lot,” says senior Viviane Kim.

Kim came to Interlochen with an interest in studying and performing the work of female composers, and working with Huber has fueled that desire in her.

“I really enjoyed working with [Kara] because she's grown my interest in female composers and contemporary music,” says Kim. “I think a lot of teachers shy away from that sometimes, but I look at her and she's playing the complete works of Joan Tower in concert.”

A dark-haired piano student dressed in a long skirt performs at a recital.

Viviane Kim in performance

A dark-haired student dressed in black lace bends over a piano as she plays it.

Viviane Kim

Kim, who was the Rosalyn Tureck Scholar this year and a finalist in Interlochen’s concerto competition, says that Huber also challenged her to expand her self-definition as a pianist.

“She's encouraged me to work on more technically challenging things that I've been nervous about for no good reason. She’s shown me that I can actually do those things. And part of that is through music written by women. People tend to be dismissive about it, but it can be extremely difficult music.”

Huber’s work at Interlochen is supported by her funding as the Marjorie Dracket Piano Chair. Looking ahead at what she still wants to accomplish at Interlochen, Huber expresses gratitude for her position.

“Interlochen’s piano program has always been really strong, with lots of high-profile teachers and guest artists,” says Huber. “I’m so grateful to be supported and secure in this position, and that we can ensure the piano program can continue to provide this kind of education for young pianists.”

Learn more about studying piano at Interlochen Arts Academy, or explore our summer piano programs