Interlochen Center for the Arts was founded in 1928, hosts 2,800 students from all over the world each summer, and has 90,000 arts camp alumni. This arts academy and summer camp in Michigan reopened their campus this summer, welcoming students from all 50 states, as well as various parts of the world. The camp had taken place fully online in 2020, and went back to being in person in 2021 with a “reduced density model” made up of 50% less students.
For many of the campers and faculty members at Interlochen, including myself, this was our first time being able to rehearse and perform in person w since the beginning of the pandemic. I was part of the instrumental music program at Interlochen, and we were able to play in both chamber groups and larger ensembles. We also had weekly performances attended by live audiences, something that had not been possible for the last year and a half.
Because we had so many collaboration opportunities, safety measures were to be taken seriously throughout camp. Students were asked to sit one seat apart, and in their designated sections for performances. Masks were required indoors, and COVID tests and nurses were always available at the health center.
Our concert audiences were on the smaller side this year, but being able to play on stage again, accompanied by other performers and a conductor, was almost unbelievable, and both students and faculty alike expressed that they felt emotional after playing, or even just listening to live music.
A returning camper from Miami, Florida said, “My favorite part of Interlochen was the sensation I felt after my first performance…I got really emotional and excited…being able to see an audience full of people brought me so much joy.” A faculty member in the composition department stated, “I started tearing up when I heard [the orchestra play] the first note. I was in my office and it caught me off guard…I haven’t heard live music in so long.” A first time camper from Peru talked about how much he loved playing in his orchestra, WYSO (World Youth Symphony Orchestra), and a first time camper from Chicago, Illinois said she appreciated the opportunity to work with such amazing faculty in person.
Although this year was not the same as previous, the hardworking, passionate campers and wonderful faculty members made the strange, yet incredible camp experience possible. It felt odd seeing the cafeteria bustling with a sea of students everyday, and seeing the distance we were once forced to keep close up. However, the reopening of this camp allowed me to realize that the world is slowly returning to a state that we could call “normal”.
Heather Kim, Grade 10
Orange County School of the Arts