Sevierville teen Paul Trentham studies voice at prestigious Michigan arts camp

Jun. 19, 2014 @ 04:09 PM

What does Sevier County High School student Paul Trentham have in common with singers Norah Jones, Josh Groban, Rufus Wainwright and Jessye Norman?

All were chosen to attend Interlochen Arts Camp, the prestigious summer program that each year trains thousands of youths in music, dance, theater, writing, visual art and film.

A tenor singer, Trentham, 17, chose Interlochen from among several summer arts camps that accepted him, including programs at New York University, the Boston Conservatory of Music, the Eastman School of Music and the Carnegie-Mellon Conservatory of Music.

“It really is unrivaled, and it’s something I wanted to be a part of,” the rising senior said of Interlochen. “It’s really special to be a part of this in the music community.”

Trentham, whose parents are Robert and Linda Trentham of Sevierville, leaves Friday for the camp, located in northern Michigan.

He will spend six weeks there. He will have choir practice every day, and private lessons twice a week. He’ll also study music history and theory, solo performance, audition preparation, diction and stage makeup.

His focus is classical and operatic singing. “Not to downplay pop or musical theater, but when you get into classical music, it’s as much about the music as it is the lyrics,” he said.

“The history of music is important to preserve. It’s a really big part of who we are as a people. It can’t be forgotten.”

Founded in the 1920s, Interlochen also counts among its notable alumni conductor Lorin Maazel, jazz pianist Eldar Djangirov, actor Anthony Rapp and cartoonist Cathy Guisewite.

Trentham attended Sevierville Primary, Intermediate and Middle schools. He currently sings in the Sevier County High School Concert Choir, whose director is Nathan Rhea.

Sevier County High’s music program has, Trentham said, “given me the tools I need to excel independently.”

Of Rhea, Trentham said, “He makes you work, and that’s important, especially for high schoolers.”

Trentham studies classical voice at UT with Professor Cecily Nall. For the past two years, he has distinguished himself at All-East and All-State Choirs, and in 2013, he attended the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts at Middle Tennessee State University.

Governor’s School marked a turning point, Trentham said.

“I had no intention of doing music until I was doing it all day, every day” at Governor’s School, Trentham said. “Then I knew what I wanted to do. I was waking up exhausted and still smiling, because I was doing what I loved.”

Currently Trentham is rehearsing the art song “Lydia,” by the French composer Gabriel Fauré.

“The French language is nice to sing in,” Trentham said.

“It’s a beautiful melody, but you can’t relax.”

Trentham would like to pursue a music career, and, later on, to teach.

“I think it’s really important to pass on knowledge,” he said. “I’m forever grateful for the teachers I’ve had. They didn’t only teach me about music, but also about life, and that’s more important than just music.”

kburns@themountainpress.com