Just in: Interlochen breaks camp, goes virtual

Just in: Interlochen breaks camp, goes virtual


norman lebrecht

April 24, 2020

The press release puts an upbeat spin on a desperately sad piece of distancing:

(INTERLOCHEN, Mich., April 24, 2020)—For the first time in 93 years, young artists from around the world will be able to take part in Interlochen Arts Camp virtually. The 2020 Interlochen Arts Camp will transition to virtual instruction as part of the newly launched Interlochen Online, announced Interlochen Center for the Arts President Trey Devey today. 


“After careful evaluation of the projected impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to pivot this summer’s Arts Camp to a virtual model,” Devey said. “No words can fully capture our profound sadness and disappointment in the loss of convening on campus, but we are guided by our first priority: ensuring the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, volunteers, guests, and the entire Interlochen community.” 

“Interlochen Online enables us to continue to nurture young artists, expand their creative capacities, and provide them with critically needed inspiration and community during this unprecedented time.” 

Interlochen Online will commence its camp programs with a virtual gathering of students and the Interlochen community the evening of June 28, with classes taking place from June 29 to July 17, 2020 and virtual multidisciplinary performances on July 18 and 19. Programs will be offered in acting, musical theatre, theatre design and production, creative writing, visual arts, dance, filmmaking, classical music performance and composition, music production and engineering, songwriting, jazz performance and improvisation, and general arts for students in grades 2-12. 

Like Interlochen’s traditional Arts Camp, the online camp will feature one-of-a-kind seminars and coaching led by world-class artists and arts leaders including violinist Nicoletta Benedetti, the School of American Ballet’s Craig Hall, television writer and producer Janet Leahy, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, and many others; private arts instruction as well as collaboration with peers; virtual performances, exhibitions, screenings, and readings by students and faculty; daily “virtual cabin” social activities; synchronous Camp-wide convenings such as “First Gathering,” “Collage,” and “Les Preludes;” and “camp in a box,” materials and supplies which will be sent to students’ homes prior to camp.


  • Anon says:

    While certainly disappointing, this is a better outcome than for other summer programs that have simply had to cancel.

    • anon says:

      Other programs have specifically determined that a virtual program would be far less of an experience than they choose to offer. For example, from Meadowmount’s website: “We do not wish to offer an inferior version of Meadowmount through virtual technology, so all payments will be refunded.”

      Music Academy of the West is beginning the season with a virtual offering. Fine decision – attendance is free to students, being Fellowship based. Participants are not out of pocket.

      I prefer the honesty of Meadowmount in not offering an inferior experience or MAW’s “we doing the best we can and not charging you” to Interlochen’s overpriced suggestion that the summer experience will be worthwhile. (Chamber music experience of playing with faculty?? Gimme a break……)

  • Jon says:

    Bravo to the entire Interlochen team on launching a virtual summer experience. My one summer there completely changed the course of my life for the better. In his open letter to academy students, Trey wrote, “As you understand, we are citizen artists, and right now we must be conscious of our social responsibility and act as stewards of public health.” Citizen artists: sound the call!

  • The View from America says:

    “Exhibit A” in illustrating the maxim “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

  • anon says:

    Interlochen is offering a three week high school music program with 4 hours of online class instruction daily, one weekly 50 minute lesson and optional camp and fitness activities. All for nearly $1000 per week. Certainly not a bargain.

    Interlochen’s tuition for a “normal” summer is more expensive than Aspen, Meadowmount, Heifetz and other more exclusive camps also servicing advanced high school string players.

    In 40 years, I’ve never figured out the Interlochen draw…..

    • Fred Funk says:

      Well, you’re paying nearly $4k per 12 minute fitness activity. Are the lights on?

    • fflambeau says:

      Well, they are a premiere institution. I’m delighted they are doing this: it is innovative and exciting. Howard Hanson would approve.

  • Colin Knapp says:

    While a virtual camp isn’t ideal for certain disciplines, I’m so happy Interlochen isn’t canceling altogether. There are only so many summers in a young person’s life and we need to make sure we’re there for them this summer.

    Bravi to the entire Interlochen staff and faculty for providing this opportunity! I know it will make an incredible impact on many young artists.

  • Austin says:

    In 1936, Joseph Maddy (Interlochen’s founder) was providing instrumental music education to more than 200k students via the radio. In 2020, Interlochen is still finding meaningful ways to fulfill their mission and stay connected with young artists. Bravi!