Onward to Greatness

Crescendo issue: May 2014
The same phrase can be heard time and again across campus as visitors exit student performances - "I just can't believe that they're only in high school."

Throughout the artistic world, past Interlochen students who have been the source of this disbelief have made an indellible mark. Many of these students have gone on to enjoy incredible success within their art. As yet another class prepares for graduation, the stories and the talents are, again, everywhere. So many young artists are about to exit Interlochen and loose their skills onto a world hungry for exceptional artistic talent.

One such talent is possessed by Interlochen senior Sage DeAgro-Ruopp. Sage's story at Interlochen is an incredible one, as is the story of many of her artistic peers.

She has performed live on the Kresge stage to thousands and has been heard by millions via the Prairie Home Companion radio show. She recently returned from Miami and a stellar YoungArts performance. She won Interlochen's concerto competition. She was a finalist for the Verdi Competition. And she has been accepted to all of her choice colleges, including Oberlin and The Juilliard School. At her young age, she already has quite a tale to tell, and that tale is only going to grow.

"The moment I knew I wanted to enter the arts took place when I was ten years old," recalls Sage. "I was playing Gretel in my school’s production of Hansel and Gretel. This was around the time that the Metropolitan Opera began their HD broadcasts. Hansel and Gretel happened to be in their season and my mom noticed it. She took me to the State Theater here in Traverse City and I saw my very first opera. I immediately fell in love with the art form. The next opera I saw was La Boheme and I never stopped going back. I had always loved singing and had just begun taking private voice with local voice teacher Marilyn Tilley. She slowly and cautiously introduced me to classical repertoire and ever since then I have never questioned pursuing opera."

That pursuit took Sage to Interlochen once she entered her freshman year. 

"There have been so many moments here at Interlochen for me, both personally and musically," says Sage. "Scott Skiba, my teacher, has been one of the largest influences on me here at Interlochen. I am so incredibly lucky to have him as my teacher. Every moment working and learning here has been beneficial."

In today's world, with the over abundance of auto-tuned influence and the temptation to take an easier path, a decision to pursue opera at such a young age is uncommon. The rewards of studying this art form, however, make the tremendous effort worthwhile.  

"To me, Opera is the queen of the art forms," Sage said. "This is just my opinion obviously, and I know many who would disagree with me. The way I see it, Opera has been around for so long and continues to evolve. It incorporates different aspects of so many different art forms. Opera is the ultimate collaboration and to me, the most effective form of communication. It touches me in a way no other genre of music does. A lot of people my age, especially in the United States, are simply not aware of what Opera is. I think if more people knew anything about it and understood it, or even just watched one, they would see it is well worth the time. There is a saying my diction coach always puts on our tests for us to translate - it translates to 'Art’s biggest enemy is ignorance.'"

"There are so many things I could do with this art form," Sage continued. "However, for a start, I would like to be able to make a living doing what I love, as does everyone. While I do this though, I want to share the joy that this music brings me with the rest of the world. Music creates this amazing connection between humans. Just by listening it allows us to escape the solitude that we live in and, for a brief moment, feel connected with anyone else hearing the music. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to provide, and to help make, that connection. There is nothing more inspiring and lovely than watching a person do what they love."

Sage's story, and the future chapters yet to be written within that story, is but one of the many that circulate through Interlochen's campus on any given day. Interlochen thrives because of these stories and these stories are written thanks, in part, to Interlochen.