The Idyllwild community and the campus have a unique symbiotic relationship which truly takes a village to be successful.

It’s well known that life often imitates art and vice versa. Such is the case with several Idyllwild Arts Academy graduates who have been or are currently involved in “Glee,” one of the most popular musical TV shows. “Glee” is a musical comedy about a group of ambitious and talented kids who escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club where they find strength, acceptance and, ultimately, their voices.

Jacob Scesney, a 2011 IAA alum, is performing on “Glee” as the new on-screen saxophonist. He told us, “You hear us because they overlay the horn line we play over the MIDI track on the recording for the show, but not in the studio iTunes version.”

Watch for Jacob on the May 2 episode this week of “Glee.” He will be back for Season 5 which he will begin filming in July.

Another alumna, Jennifer Greenberg, who graduated in 1994, is the key makeup artist on “Glee” and has been nominated for several Emmys. Jennifer is due to return to IAA this week as an alumni guest lecturer.

The school has other alums on the show as well, Nicole Garcia (1995) has been the violinist on “Glee,” and Paul Curtis who was a Summer Program counselor, has also been a musician on the show.

These IAA musicians are all uniquely qualified for “Glee” since they experienced the show’s premise first hand!

IAA set to entertain town on Mother’s Day
Pack up a picnic, grab the family, and head over to the town gazebo for the Songwriting Festival on Sunday, May 12, when IAA songwriting students will be entertaining.

Students will debut several of their original works accompanied by live musicians. Idyll Awhile is sponsoring the event from noon to 3 p.m., Mother’s Day, May 12. As are all IAA events, the Songwriting Festival is free, so treat Mom to a fun afternoon of song and festivity!

Jazz event benefits Tanzania water project
For the past seven summers, IAA Dean of Academics, Marianne Kent-Stoll, and her husband, Don Stoll, coordinator of international student life, have mobilized a large group of volunteers to travel to Tanzania with them where they engage in a variety of building projects in the small African village of Dareda Kati. Over the past several years, they have helped enormously improve the quality of life in Dareda Kati with a variety of projects such as renovating a school, bringing clean running water to the village and its medical clinics, offered education about malaria, and distributed malaria nets, and established micro financing programs.

This June they will travel with 38 volunteers, whose ages range from the mid-teens to the mid-sixties, and who come from all over California.

Their plan is to help the villagers build a permanent footbridge so that many hundreds of people will no longer be cut off from medical care, education, and supplies by the torrential rains that hit East Africa every March and April.

“We keep going back to the same village because we have formed a deep friendship. We work as partners in the community,” Marianne said. “The enthusiasm and hope of the people of Dareda Kati make us believe that the village will grow stronger and more sustainable.”

Marianne and Don have inspired others in the Idyllwild community to assist their efforts and you can join the effort by attending a special jazz night 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Café Aroma. The event will help fund water for the Bacho School in the village. The featured musicians are Paul Carman, sax; Marshall Hawkins, bass; and special guest Najite Agindotan who will play the djembe drum.

All of the musicians’ tips will go to the village of Dareda Kati. Here’s your chance to “act locally and think globally” from our village to theirs.

To learn more about this ongoing project, please visit:

Music students are finalists in chamber competition
It’s gratifying to see IAA students begin to spread their wings beyond the campus environs. In September of last year, three Music Department students formed the JAM Trio, a chamber music group that has already drawn fans beyond the IAA campus.

They chose the name as an acronym derived from the initials of their names. These three students — Julian Jenson, piano; Man Jie (Ally) Yang, and Yu-Ming (Andrew) Ma, violins — are now finalists in the High School Division of the San Diego Chamber Music Competition that will be held on Saturday, May 4 at the Sherwood Auditorium, Museum of Contemporary Arts in La Jolla.

The Chamber Music Competition is presented by the Music Teachers’ Association of California, San Diego Branch, and will present competitive performances by high school, college and professional level performers.

Finalists will perform piano trios, piano quartets, string quartets, wind trios, wind quintets, and brass quintets.

“Ally, Andrew and Julian are some of our top musicians at the Idyllwild Arts Academy,” said Ryan Zwahlen, Music Department chair, who will also be participating in the professional category of the chamber competition. “They’ve worked extremely hard this year and it has paid off with them making the finals of this statewide competition. The music faculty couldn’t be more proud of them.”