I arrived at the young musicians’ paradise, Interlochen, a little over a week ago to start my job as a harp teaching assistant. I was ready for another summer of work and was so excited to be back at a place that I consider a second home. As I was driving up to the campus, I noticed a banner that said Art Lives Here. Over the last week this seemingly simple three-word banner got me thinking about how my experiences at Interlochen – both old and new – truly reflect that Art Lives Here:
Whether you are a young gregarious student or a wise adult teacher, I believe that summers at Interlochen are summers for growth and for inspiration. Thinking back on my first Interlochen summer as an Intermediate camper in 2002, I recall being the youngest harpist in the session that I attended and had never before played in an orchestra. I was terrified but at the same time eager to learn. I learned that first summer that for me personally, I was not there to be the best. I was there to learn as much as possible and to be motivated by the art around me – I was living amongst art and with artists. That Interlochen summer made me to want to take my art to the next level and return as an Academy student. Less than a few years later, as a sophomore in high school, I put my plan in action and applied for the academy – I was the one telling my parents this is where I wanted to be and needed to be. In 2005 I started my final two years of high school at the Academy and graduated as co-valedictorian with my best friend and fellow harpist. Those two years were probably the best and most transformative years of my life. I met so many great and talented artists and grew personally as a musician. Last summer my Interlochen experience came full circle – the student became the teacher (well . . . . a teaching assistant).
Being back at Interlochen, I now find that those three words Art Lives Here are constantly repeated in my mind. Upon arrival at the campus, art immediately surrounds you. Most moments of most days you will hear an orchestra rehearsing, see film students working on movies, happen upon visual artists drawing and traverse the campus while many other rehearsals go on. Yet, it is often the non-scheduled events that truly stand out. You will often hear students singing or playing impromptu songs for fun while others are hanging out with friends and family on the Mall. Watching these students collaborate and enjoy the arts outside of class is inspiring – Art Lives Here.
I’ve also been thinking about what Interlochen offers in the less concrete sense. It offers a one-of-a-kind place for art (of all kinds) to live and to grow. I can say from personal experience that it offers world-class instruction as well as a place to make long-lasting friendships. While watching the first World Youth Symphony Orchestra Concert this past weekend, Interlochen was described as a place that ignites the passion of the heart. When I heard that, it struck me as one of the perfect ways of explaining Interlochen – it is not a place to be the best, but a place to be inspired, and to ignite your passion to grow as artists.