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Idyllwild Arts Academy celebrates its 25th anniversary with Saturday event at REDCAT (updated)

March 11, 2011 |  6:36 am

IdyllwildArtsStudent The talent at REDCAT on Saturday afternoon will be coming ‘round from the mountain -– the San Jacinto Mountains, that is,  home to the Idyllwild Arts Academy, which is sending some of its teenage students and their work to downtown L.A. as part of the high school’s 25th-anniversary celebration.

The boarding school in a bucolic part of Riverside County bills itself as “the only residential fine arts high school on the West Coast,” and counts artist Shepard Fairey and actress Marin Ireland (a 2009 Tony Award nominee) among its alumni.

It also claimed two of the top 24 singers on “American Idol” –- Casey Abrams, who graduated in 2009, and Julie Zorrilla, who attended as a freshman in 2005-06. It’s the kind of school that opts for Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” as a drama department presentation, as opposed to some familiar chestnut –- then recruits Joe Spano to play the mythical heroine’s dad, as occurred in Idyllwild Arts’ January production.  Nearly half of the 276 students are from 21 foreign countries, according to the school's website, and the 150 Americans include students from 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Students will be singing, dancing, acting, reading from their written works and exhibiting their art, multimedia creations and film documentaries at REDCAT from 2 to 4:30 p.m Admission is free. Some Idyllwilders will hang downtown for a gala Sunday at the Millennium Biltmore honoring  Bill Lowman, who is stepping down after 25 years as the academy’s founding president. The site opened as a haven for arts instruction in 1950 (it still has a summer program open to all comers), and USC ran it for about 20 years before the boarding school was launched.

Idyllwild will come to REDCAT again on May 8 for a concert by the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra. It’s titled “What’s New?” and features an evening of new works commissioned by the orchestra, including a jazz-classical piece by bassist Rufus Reid. Admission is $10-$25. 

(For the record: an earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Julie Zorrilla had graduated from Idyllwild Arts and that a third of the current students were from foreign countries.)

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: An Idyllwild Arts Academy student paints amid bucolic surroundings on the mountainside campus. Credit: Idyllwild Arts Academy