This week’s Face of Northeast is Kathryn Hilger, who moved to Northeast with her boyfriend earlier this year. She had been attending school in Cleveland, Oh., before COVID-19 ended the semester early. A Lee’s Summit native, Hilger was born and raised in the Kansas City area, but Northeast was unfamiliar to her.
“I’d been to Kessler Park maybe once; and maybe the Kansas City Museum, but I had no idea this neighborhood existed,” she admitted. “I love the historic homes and the diversity. A really big change from growing up in the suburbs.”
Growing up, Higler was introduced to the viola in Lee’s Summit public schools when she was nine. She originally looked at it as a hobby or a skill, but after she had the opportunity to participate in All-State Orchestra, she really began to think about how she could make a living performing classical music. She attended University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) for four years before moving to Cleveland to pursue a masters degree.
While in Cleveland, she had a work study opportunity from the Cleveland Institute of Music to teach viola to public school students. When the program was over, the district gifted the students with their instruments.
“That was really amazing,” Hilger said. “The kids in that program really wanted to be there. They were enthusiastic about it, and so that makes a huge difference.”
Hilger is looking for ways to bring similar opportunities to students in the Kansas City area.
“I want to bring classical music to people who wouldn’t normally get to experience it,” she said, but her ultimate personal goal is to play the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, no matter how long it takes.
This Friday, Sept. 25, Kathryn Hilger will be performing her viola at Healing House at 7 p.m. The event raises money for the Healing House ministry, as well as musicians who have been out of work, and will be live-streamed online.