Idyllwild Arts: Music First

Published : Monday, December 11, 2017 | 3:52 PM

This year, Idyllwild Arts Academy selected Michael Cantú to apply for the Princeton University Creative Arts and Humanities Symposium, which requires excellent grades as well as community involvement.

Michael is a three-year senior and a classical cello major. He is actively involved in the Idyllwild Arts Academy community, working as a math tutor and a prefect. He attended the Princeton symposium in early October.

The Princeton Symposium allows participants a rare opportunity to work closely with the Princeton staff. Aside from Michael, there were ninety-nine other high school seniors, who came from a wide variety of artistic backgrounds.

“I got to the airport and there was already a group of people waiting to go to campus,” Michael says. “I made some really good friends before I even went to the program.”

He stayed on campus in a dorm with two Princeton seniors and two other symposium attendees. Michael says that the living situation was relaxed and designed so that the visiting students could explore the campus.

“The buildings are ancient. It was different than anything I’d ever seen before.”

Michael attended classes on literature, photography, and music performance. Mainly, though, he took an interest in his urban development class, which he says was engaging, unique, and an unexpected favorite.

“In general it was really nice. Their aim was to not make Princeton a stressful experience. You were always doing something, like going on campus tours or taking part in Q&A’s with Princeton students.”

He was one of the only people in the program applying almost exclusively to music schools after high school. Dedication to academics has placed Michael in the top tier of his class, but music comes first. His passion and talent for cello will continue to be a driving force well after his graduation.


Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild, CA 92549-0038, (951) 659-2171 or visit





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