Northern Michigan Attractions: Interlochen Arts Academy Turns 50

Northern Michigan Attractions: It's a big year for Interlochen Center for the Arts, located near Traverse City. Its fine arts boarding high school, the Interlochen Arts Academy, celebrates 50 years. What does this mean for Interlochen’s notoriously high-quality performance arts and entertainment schedule? Extra-special events throughout the fall and into the spring. We asked Interlochen President Jeff Kimpton to talk about this golden anniversary (the ongoing celebration includes a free concert) and what else is happening at this venerable creative hub on the outskirts of Traverse City. 231.276.7800,

What does Interlochen have on tap for this fall? There are too many performances to list them all, but I can say there will be something for everyone. The line-up includes legendary singer-songwriter Jackson Browne; the amazing Sphinx Virtuosi, a dynamic ensemble of young black and Latino classical musicians; the contemporary bluegrass outfit Yonder Mountain String Band; a 100th anniversary tribute to jazz pioneer Stan Kenton; the critically acclaimed Alonzo King LINES Ballet of San Francisco; and literally hundreds of performances by Interlochen Arts Academy students, including our full-scale Nutcracker ballet and the Broadway musicals Cabaret and West Side Story.

Are you looking forward to attending a particular event yourself? While I enjoy so many kinds of performances and exhibits, I am particularly fond of the Fall Collage. It’s 90 minutes of non-stop performances, without applause, that builds to this tremendous conclusion. For me it puts the tremendous variety of what we do here on display.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the arts academy—what is Interlochen doing to celebrate this milestone? How would you like Northern Michigan to take part of any special events being held? Our fine arts boarding high school always has a full calendar, but in honor of our 50th year we have planned dozens of extra performances and presentations. Because our alumni can be found across the country, we will take some of our performances ‘on the road’ to cities throughout the United States, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and many others. But we also want to thank and celebrate with our Northern Michigan community, so we are planning a free 50th Anniversary concert on March 18. In May, our yearlong celebration will culminate with an all-alumni reunion that will coincide with the commencement of our 50th class of graduates. Some details are still in the planning stages, but we are looking forward to a very exciting year.

Tell us about your “president’s blog” on the Interlochen website.
The blog, our online videos and our website in general give small glimpses into what happens at Interlochen Center for the Arts. It’s remarkable, after 84 years of operation, how many people, even in our own backyard, are not familiar with everything that Interlochen does! For example, they might know about the camp, public radio or the concerts, but not the fine arts boarding high school or our adult enrichment programs. Visitors to Interlochen are often completely surprised by the scope and quality of our arts programs. Through my blog, our website and other outlets like our Facebook page, we can finally share an inside look at Interlochen on a daily basis. It makes it possible to show the caliber of instruction and artistry that happens at Interlochen throughout the year. The feedback so far has been amazing; we are doing our best to keep up with the demand for more online content.  

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