Students engage in various performing arts activities, including acting, singing and playing instruments. Through their journeys participating in performing arts, students have found a passion for these activities. (Vittoria Di Meo)
Students engage in various performing arts activities, including acting, singing and playing instruments. Through their journeys participating in performing arts, students have found a passion for these activities.

Vittoria Di Meo

Students find purpose, community through performing arts

Student musicians and performers expand their love for their craft through pursuits in and out of school. Each share their inspiration and motivations for pursuing performing arts. Nuria Alvarez Martin, Nassef Sawiris and Annika Skorski contributed to reporting.

February 15, 2023

Theo Kalimtgis (’24)

Inspired by his older sister’s piano skills, Theo Kalimtgis (’24) said he grew up learning to 

play the french horn, piano and guitar. Kalimtgis said his parents encouraged him and his sisters to play instruments from a young age, which is how he discovered his passion. Kalimtgis said he enjoyed playing due to the dynamic ranges of different musical pieces.

“It’s a cool form of expression because there are so many emotions you could be playing,” Kalimgtis said. 

Although he is passionate about music, Kalimtgis said he does not enjoy performing in front of an audience.

“I just get very nervous when performing my instruments in front of other people,” Kalimgtis said. “I don’t think any of the times that I’ve had to perform were particularly pleasant.”

Instead, Kalimtgis said he finds his confidence in seeing himself improve on challenging pieces.

“I’ll not have played a piece for two weeks, and then I go back to it, and I play it really well, like better than I had before,” Kalimgtis said.

Kingston Bridges (’24)

Required to learn an instrument in the Middle School, Kingston Bridges (’24) said he settled on the trumpet and, from then on, realized how much he enjoyed creating music. 

“It was really fun to get to explore this new instrument,” Bridges said. “As I started playing, I found that music is a really interesting medium of expression that really spoke to me.”

Moreover, Bridges said as he continued to play the trumpet, he discovered trumpet players who inspired him, such as Alison Balsom. 

“One of the first pieces I heard by her was ‘Libertango,’” Bridges said. “That was really inspiring to me.” 

Bridges said his proudest moment was being invited to play in the Texas Music Educators Association.

“I was really nervous, but it felt really good to play out there in front of so many people,” Bridges said. “It’s by far one of my proudest moments, so I’m happy I got to play there before moving here.”

Rion Emery (’25)

Rion Emery (’25) plays Brooke Windham during the performance of the musical “Legally Blonde” Nov. 16, 2022. Emery rehearsed for the play five days a week and performed in front of a live audience. (Photo courtesy of Rion Emery)

Rion Emery (’25) said she started performing in a musical theater group at a young age when a teacher encouraged her to branch out from her shyness. Emery said one can relate to characters through acting. 

“You can really find yourself in characters that you didn’t necessarily think had connections to your real persona and personality, but you end up really being able to analyze yourself and other people,” Emery said. “It’s really peaceful.”

Emery also said that she has been involved in various summer camps to foster her passion for acting, including Interlochen, a performing arts summer camp. Emery said acceptance to this program was a “big accomplishment” given the “intense audition process” along with a “very low acceptance rate.”

However, Emery said there are challenges to participating in performing arts, including the disappointment of not getting roles. 

“You don’t always get the part that you want,” Emery said. “You kind of just have to live up with trying your best and never giving up.”

Gus Bhatia (’25)

Gus Bhatia (’25) tries out different guitars in a store. Bhatia started playing guitar when he was younger and has learned to play additional instruments such as the bass guitar, piano and tabla.
(Photo courtesy of Gus Bhatia)

Gus Bhatia (’25) said he began playing guitar, bass guitar, piano and tabla because his mother encouraged him to try several activities from a young age. While he tried sports such as baseball and soccer, Bhatia discovered his true passion when he picked up an instrument.

“Music is just something that I ended up getting really attached to,” Bhatia said. “I used to spend all my free time just downstairs like messing around and playing with my instruments, and it just kind of grew.”

Bhatia said his favorite moments throughout his musical journey are when he can perform in front of an audience. 

“[I love] those times when you get to play up in front of your entire school, you know, it sounds quite glorious,” he said. “I remember playing in Princeton town center, back where I’m from which is sick. I got to play for university students and stuff like that was really fun.”

Bhatia also said he would advise students who are interested in music to jump in and attempt to pursue it. 

“It’s hard at the start,” Bhatia said. “The start can make it really frustrating when you’re beginning, but if you’re really interested, I feel like there’s always room to move past that starting block and just give it a shot and persevere through it.”

Fernando Hartogs (’24)

Fernando Hartogs (’24) practices the saxophone in his home. As a jazz musician, Hartogs found inspiration through his Brazilian heritage and famous jazz players. (Photo courtesy of Fernando Hartogs)

Fernando Hartogs (’24) said he has always loved music and finds sound is the best medium for him to express himself. He finds inspiration through his background and looks up to other saxophonists, such as Sonny Rollins.

“I grew up listening to Brazilian music in my house and a few very influential teachers in my life,” Hartogs said.“I just listened to a lot of music, and I wanted to reproduce it with my own choices.”

However, Hartogs said one aspect he does not like about the study of music is learning about genres that are not interesting to him.

“[I dislike] studying things that I know are good for me but are painstakingly annoying, like classical music,” Hartogs said.

Nevertheless, Hartogs said even the mundane parts of learning music pay off when he improves at playing and finds a community of artists. 

“Being able to get up and just play with anybody really, and just connect over music, that’s probably my best accomplishment so far,” Hartogs said.

Sophia Ahmad (’25)

Sophia Ahmad (’25) said her passion for singing and performing began in Grade 5 and has helped her build her confidence. Ahmad said her best performance was in Grade 8, singing and playing guitar for the Middle School on a Zoom call.

“I did a performance in eighth grade for the social justice week,” Ahmad said. “Apparently, a lot of people really enjoyed it, so I think that was one of my best performances.”

Ahmad said she has various inspirations, including singer Troy Crooks. 

“She has a really nice style of singing, it’s sort of the style of singing that I want to go into,” Ahmad said.

Above all, Ahmad said her most memorable moments are when she gets the chance to project her talents.

“Getting any opportunity to actually perform and share my voice with people, that’s what I enjoy the most,” Ahmad said.

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