Dr. Michael Bresler (IAC 56-58, 60-61, 64; UM 65; IAC Staff 72, 77-79, 87-91, 02-04) may be the quintessential National Music Camp alumnus: a serious percussionist since age five, he spent seven summers at camp in four different divisions (Junior, Intermediate, High School, and University). Sons Ben (IAC 99-07, IAC Staff 08-09, 11-12) and Aaron (IAC 03-04) followed in their father’s footsteps as campers at Interlochen Arts Camp. And like many other committed Interlochen friends and alumni, Michael recently established a planned gift that ensures future generations of young artists enjoy the same opportunities he had.
The decision to begin supporting Interlochen more than 40 years ago was an easy one. “I came from a poor family and went through Interlochen on scholarship, so I was always grateful for the opportunity,” Michael explains. “There was never any question that if I were in a position financially to pay that back to Interlochen, to make that experience available to other kids who didn’t have funding, then I would do that.”
Like many Interlochen campers, Michael’s vision included more than the arts. “I knew I was going to be a doctor from the age of seven,” Michael says. “I was also a serious musician, but I knew I wasn’t going to be a professional musician.” Even as his dream of becoming a doctor grew, he returned to Interlochen where his love of the arts was nurtured and friendships flourished.
Describing what kept him coming back, summer after summer, Michael says, “Obviously the music was incredible, but every bit as (meaningful) was the camp life: the overnight trips, the games we played as junior boys, the social life in high school.” The whole camp experience is what cemented those friendships, ones that Michael still enjoys today. “In many ways,” he continues, “the greatest thing about Interlochen is that even today, at my age, most of my closest friends are either people I met at Interlochen or people I met through Interlochen friends.”
Michael lives in California where he is clinical professor in emergency medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has managed to continue combining his love for Interlochen with his career in medicine, returning for 11 summers to work as the camp physician at Interlochen.
Michael views Interlochen’s mission as two-fold: not only does Interlochen play a vital role in training artists, but it also develops patrons of the arts—people like himself who have a love for the arts as well as a vision for another profession. “We need people like me and my friends from Interlochen who will fill up those seats in the concert hall, who will attend the ballet, and who will financially support the institutions,” he says.
As a physician, Michael is well aware of the many needs in the world, especially those related to health care, but Interlochen is at the top of his philanthropic list. “There are so many worthy causes around, but the arts are what help humanize society,” he explains. “As far as I’m concerned, Interlochen Center for the Arts is absolutely the top arts institution in the United States.”