Interlochen Center for the Arts

Interlochen Center for the Arts is a tax exempt, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, operating an arts education institution in northwest Michigan. The center is situated on a 1,200-acre (490 ha) campus in Interlochen, Michigan, roughly 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Traverse City. Interlochen draws young people from around the world to study music, theater, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and comparative arts. Interlochen Center for the Arts is the umbrella organization for Interlochen Arts Camp (formerly the National Music Camp, founded 1928), Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school (founded 1962), Interlochen Public Radio (founded 1963), and the "Interlochen Presents" performing arts series. The Interlochen College of Creative Arts (founded 2004) is an affiliated but separate non-profit corporation.

Interlochen Center for the Arts

United States
TypeEducational institution, privately owned
MottoDedicated to the Promotion of World Friendship
Through the Universal Language of the Arts
PresidentTrey Devey
EnrollmentCamp (summer): 3000
Academy (school year): 500
Campus1,200 acres (490 ha), wooded, rural, between two lakes, and immediately adjacent Interlochen State Park
MascotFighting Blueberry


Interlochen Center for the Arts comprises five major divisions.[1]

Interlochen Arts Camp

An annual summer camp attended by young artists from around the world. Programs are offered to students in grades three through twelve, providing an opportunity to learn, create and perform alongside leading artists and instructors.

Interlochen Arts Academy

A fine arts boarding high school offering arts training combined with comprehensive, college-preparatory academics.

Interlochen College of Creative Arts

An adult artist learning program offering programs in a variety of arts disciplines.

Interlochen Public Radio

Two listener-supported stations that broadcast to northwest Michigan: Classical Music 88.7, 88.5, 94.7 and 100.9 FM; News Radio 91.5, 90.1 and 89.7 FM. Broadcasts include arts, news and culture from around the world, as well as local and regional news, information and artists. IPR was a charter member of National Public Radio.

Interlochen Presents

An ongoing series of performances by students, faculty and dozens of world-renowned guest artists. The series presents more than 600 events each year, making Interlochen one of the nation's largest arts presenters.

Stone Hotel

The Stone Hotel is located on the campus of Interlochen and is open to the public. The hotel offers a variety of accommodations including traditional hotel rooms, rustic cabins, modern cabins, and houses.[2]


Interlochen Arts Academy

The Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA), the highest profile pre-professional arts boarding high school worldwide, was founded in 1962 by Joseph E. Maddy.[3] As of 2019, it had over 350 faculty and staff, and approximately 550 students, from Freshman to Postgraduates. Admission is by audition only. While more than half the students major in Music Performance, IAA offers majors in Comparative Arts, Creative Writing, Dance, Theatre (Performance; Design and Production), Motion Picture Arts, and Visual Arts. Newer majors include Motion Picture Arts beginning in 2005, and Comparative Arts in 2011. The vast majority of students at Interlochen Arts Academy are boarding students, including many international students; some are day students who live in the vicinity.

Upon graduation, most IAA graduates continue to universities or conservatories for further study in the arts or academics. Conservatories that often admit Interlochen students include Juilliard, Eastman, Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Curtis, New England Conservatory (NEC), Oberlin Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, Peabody Institute, and CalArts. Interlochen Arts Academy graduates also matriculate at colleges and universities that do not have a primary focus on the arts.

Due to its reputation and secluded location, Interlochen Arts Academy has attracted many celebrity offspring, including children of Robin Williams, Hugh Hefner, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Alan Menken.[4]


The campus of Interlochen has seven dorm buildings for use year-round for Academy students and staff:

  • Hemingway House
  • Picasso House
  • Mozart-Beethoven House
  • McWhorter House
  • Deroy House
  • Thor-Johnson House
  • Frida Kahlo House


From the State of Michigan historical marker on Interlochen's Osterlin Mall:[5]

Ottawa Indians once lived in the pine forest between lakes Wahbekaness and Wahbekanetta. In the late 1800s white men came and cut the pines, leaving only a small forest between the lakes. This virgin pine was purchased in 1917 by the state and became part of one of the first state parks. When the lumber era ended, the Wylie Cooperage mill occupied the Indian village site, making barrels until the hardwood ran out. Willis Pennington's summer hotel, opened in 1909, was popular with fishermen until automobiles and better roads drew them elsewhere. Then in 1918, Camp Interlochen, one of Michigan's first girls' recreation camps, was opened, followed in 1922 by Camp Penn Loch for boys. In 1928, by arrangement with Willis Pennington, Joseph E. Maddy and Thaddeus P. Giddings established the National High School Orchestra Camp. It grew rapidly in scope, size, and reputation, becoming the National Music Camp in 1931, and affiliating with the University of Michigan in 1942. Interlochen Arts Academy was chartered in 1960 to provide year-round training in the creative arts.

From the book Interlochen, The First 25 Years:

In 1926, Joe Maddy was asked to organize and conduct the First National High School Orchestra for the Music Supervisors' National Conference (now known as the Music Educators National Conference) in Detroit. Its resounding success led to an invitation to duplicate the experience at the Dallas, Texas convention of the National Education Association's Department of Superintendence in 1927. The exuberant young musicians pled for the chance to work and play together longer than the few days the convention appearance afforded. Joe Maddy promised them a music camp! In June, 1928, at Interlochen, Michigan, in the midst of a magnificent stand of virgin pine trees between two lovely lakes, The National High School Orchestra Camp opened its doors. On leased land, with the old Hotel Pennington, several cottages, 29 new camper cabins, a hospital, water and sewer system, the new Interlochen Bowl, and $40,000 debt, this brave experiment was launched.

Interlochen was the inspiration for the 1941 Paramount motion picture There's Magic in Music (AKA "The Hard Boiled Canary").[6] Interlochen also provided inspiration, along with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, for Alyson Hannigan's character in American Pie.

In 2006, Katalyst Media filmed a reality TV pilot for MTV at Interlochen Arts Academy. Afraid that an MTV show would ruin Interlochen's distinguished reputation, a large group of students resorted to protesting and trolling the Katalyst Media film crew in order to prevent Katalyst Media from filming viable footage. Student efforts were successful, and the pilot never aired.

Notable alumni

The Interlochen Alumni Organization Board serves as the liaison between Interlochen's global alumni community and Interlochen Center for the Arts. Members are elected from the Camp and Academy alumni population and serve two-year terms.

Some notable alumni are:

Interlochen Public Radio

Interlochen Center for the Arts is home to Interlochen Public Radio, a National Public Radio member station with studios on the Interlochen campus and multiple broadcast locations that allow the station's signal to reach most of Northern Michigan as well as parts of eastern Wisconsin.

When it was founded in 1963, WIAA (note the similarity between the station call letters and the "IAA" abbreviation for Interlochen Arts Academy) was envisioned as a logical extension of the long-running "Music From Interlochen" program that had been heard for many years on the NBC radio network, and which helped to spread word about the activities at the then-named National Music Camp and the then-fledgling Interlochen Arts Academy. The station performed so poorly in its early years that there was talk of shutting down the operation. Today, however, Interlochen Public Radio thrives and includes both a music service and a news service.

Despite being one of the smallest NPR members, IPR boasts one of the highest rates of per capita contributions of any public radio station in the United States.[18] The station's classical music service is broadcast from their main tower at WIAA 88.7 FM in Interlochen, along with WIAB 88.5 FM in Mackinaw City, and W234BU 94.7 FM in Traverse City. In 2000, IPR began offering a separate news service on WICA 91.5 FM in Traverse City and later added WLMN 89.7 FM in Manistee and WHBP 90.1 FM in Harbor Springs. Interlochen is currently investigating acquisition of additional licenses so that IPR can reach larger, more geographically-diverse audiences.

Interlochen Presents

Interlochen Presents has a summer festival running from June through August (schedule announced in April) and a performing arts series from September through May coinciding with the Academy school year (schedule announced in August). It features concerts, plays, art exhibits, readings, film screenings and dance productions presented by students, faculty, and staff, as well as both well-known and obscure guest artists. Interlochen Presents events are held in numerous venues around campus. The list of recent guest artists includes Steely Dan, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Joshua Bell, Jason Mraz, Bonnie Raitt, Olga Kern, Sara Bareilles, Dierks Bentley, Norah Jones, Martha Graham Dance Company, Ra Ra Riot, Bob Dylan, Jewel, Carol Jantsch, Josh Groban, Paula Poundstone, Nathan Gunn, Chris Thile, and Bela Fleck. Interlochen Presents and Interlochen Public Radio serve as the primary channels by which Interlochen Center for the Arts connects with the northern Michigan region.

Interlochen College of Creative Arts

Interlochen College of Creative Arts was founded in 2004, and offers non-degree arts programs for adults 18 years and over. Most programs are 3–7 days long, and are housed in the Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership building on Interlochen's campus. The Mallory-Towsley building was completed in summer 2011.

Awards and accolades

  • National Medal of Arts: In 2006, Interlochen Center for the Arts was named recipient of the National Medal of Arts, one of the highest honors bestowed by the President of the United States and National Endowment for the Arts on individuals or institutions that have contributed substantially to the growth and advancement of the arts.[19] Interlochen president Jeff Kimpton received the award on behalf of Interlochen Center for the Arts from President George W. Bush in an Oval Office ceremony.[20]
  • Presidential Scholars in the Arts: Interlochen Arts Academy is a perennial front-runner among American high schools in its production of Presidential Scholars in the Arts, having produced more recipients of the award than any other school in the nation.[21]
  • National youngARTS Foundation: Interlochen Arts Academy is also a perennial front-runner in the youngARTS competition, representing approximately 19% of youngARTS finalists. In connection to the youngARTS competition, three Interlochen students, Adam Blodgett '08, Alix Briggs '08, and Steven Johnson '09, were featured on HBO's Primetime Emmy-winning Masterclass series. Alumni Josh Groban has also appeared on the series as a mentor.
  • Boal, Dean (August 1998). Interlochen: A Home for the Arts. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-10882-4.
  • Browning, Norma Lee (1992). Joe Maddy of Interlochen. Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-8092-3907-8.
  • Feild, Thom (August 2006). Pine Nuts - Recollections of Summers at Interlochen. Thom Feild Design LLC. ISBN 0-9786677-0-0.


  1. "ICA Annual Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-04-10.
  2. "Stone Hotel / Lodging | Interlochen Center for the Arts".
  3. "Our Founding". Retrieved 2016-06-12.
  4. "From Interlochen to the World, Famous Alums Reflect". July 20, 2017.
  5. "Michigan Historical Marker: Interlochen". Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  6. There's Magic in Music at the Internet Movie Database
  7. Baxter, Meredith (2011). Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering. Random House LLC. p. 41.
  8. McConnell, Jim. "Our Man in Hollywood". Chesterfield Monthly. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  9. Winowiecki, Emma (May 3, 2017). "Interlochen Center for the Arts to get $24M music building". Michigan Radio. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  10. "IGN: Helms Deep".
  11. Emke, Dave (2017-07-28). "Obituary: Actor Evan Helmuth, 40, Lived in Reston as a Boy". Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  12. "Award Winning US Singer Norah Jones Makes Nostalgic Return to Youth Arts Camp - 2003-07-14". VOA News. October 30, 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  13. Boissoneau, Ross (June 14, 2017). "Pop Band with Local Roots Returning to Interlochen". Traverse Magazine. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  14. "Jennifer Lynch | Biography, Photos, Movies, TV, Credits". Archived from the original on 2013-01-25. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  15. "New Philadelphia's Adam Exley attends renowned Interlochen Arts Camp". Times Reporter. July 3, 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  16. Serba, John (June 28, 2012). "Singer/songwriter talks about getting married, Interlochen and new album 'Out of the Game'". M Live. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  17. Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. "About Interlochen Center for the Arts | Interlochen Center for the Arts". Archived from the original on December 25, 2008.
  19. "Lifetime Honors: National Medal of Arts". Archived from the original on 2010-03-04. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  20. "NEA News Room: 2006 National Medal of Arts - INTERLOCHEN CENTER FOR THE ARTS". 2006-11-09. Archived from the original on 2009-06-28. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  21. "U.S. Presidential Scholars Program". 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-10-07.

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