SA Middle School Student to Attend Renowned Interlochen Arts Camp

Monday, March 11, 2019 | 2:05 PM


“Lights, camera, action!” This is a familiar phrase to Grade 8 student Avani Venkat, who will attend the renowned Interlochen Arts Camp, a premier summer arts program for aspiring artists in grades 3 through 12, in Michigan this summer.

Avani, 14, has loved music since she was a small child and began acting and participating in musical theatre 5 years ago. “I have always loved performing on stage and, more specifically, singing,” she said. Looking for opportunities to grow as a performer, she asked her peers and instructors for program suggestions and the Interlochen program was repeatedly recommended.

With the help of chorus teacher Mr. Tim Heavner, Avani decided to apply. “Interlochen is probably the best arts summer camp in the United States,” Mr. Heavner said. “The fact that Avani was accepted is pretty amazing. It is definitely an honor to be chosen to attend such a prestigious program!”

She described the musical theatre application process as both fun and challenging. The audition required her to sing an excerpt from two songs, and perform a monologue and a short dance solo. “I feel extremely lucky to be able to attend Interlochen Arts Camp because, from what I have heard, it is extremely competitive,” she shared. “I am most excited to learn some new techniques and meet new friends.”

According to a statement from the organization, the camp attracts students, faculty, and staff from each state and more than 40 countries. Student-artists learn from world-class instructors and produce hundreds of presentations each summer in dance, theater, creative writing, visual arts, music, and film. Among the distinguished camp alumni are singers Norah Jones, Josh Groban, Rufus Wainwright, and members of the band OK Go, opera and concert soprano Jessye Norman, conductor Loren Maazel, jazz pianist Eldar, actor Anthony Rapp, and cartoonist Cathy Guisewite.

In addition to gracing the stage for various performances at Sewickley Academy, Avani performed in regional productions with Act One Theatre School and Pittsburgh Youth Chorus. This year, she has been in Hansel and Gretel with the Pittsburgh Opera and The Tempest with the Pittsburgh Public Theater. She performed in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s production of Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust along with Mr. Heavner and Grade 6 student Rishul Sharma on March 8-10. Currently, she is rehearsing for the Pittsburgh Opera’s production of La Boheme and Narnia with Act One Theatre School.

Nerves are not a problem for the rising star. “I do not usually get nervous when I am about to perform on stage since I have performed so many times,” she said. “Although I sometimes get nervous performing for my friends and family, but I overcome those fears by reminding myself that they are here to support me.”

This story was originally published on Sewickley Academy’s website.