Mark Mayfield has been a dedicated advocate and passionate philanthropist for Interlochen Center for the Arts over many years. His regular visits to campus enable him to remain engaged and connected to a place that has meant so much throughout his life. Mark shared his thoughts with Crescendo and highlighted the important role that Interlochen has played in his life and his reasons for continuing to support the Interlochen mission.
When I was seven years old, my grandparents had a cottage on Crystal Lake. We liked to go to the Interlochen Bowl on Sundays and listen to concerts. I started out at Camp in Intermediate Boys studying piano and operetta. When I was in high school, I auditioned for the Academy on piano, and attended for three years, adding voice, choir, theatre and musical theatre to my studies.
At Interlochen, the arts require the same commitment as sports command at other schools, and the loyalty inspired is just as intense. I wear my IAA high-school ring and my alumni lapel pin all the time and have an Interlochen decal on my car.
“We were taught to think at the Academy. I didn’t understand the advantages of the academic rigor at Interlochen until I got to college. College was pretty easy compared to IAA!
I stay in touch with my Academy classmates. No matter what we are doing in life, we’re still using (in some way) what we went to Interlochen for. My former IAA roommate, who now lives in Australia, recently gave a concert and a bunch of us - his old classmates - watched his concert streamed online and instant-messaged each other all through the performance!
The arts are so important; all of my children have participated in the arts. Our daughter was inspired to take up the horn because my former IAA roommate is a prominent hornist who plays all over the world. Our daughter attended Camp and later worked as a Camp counselor. She now works as a professional musician. Her fiancé plays in an orchestra that includes other Interlochen alumni.
We have a scholarship set up for a music student attending the Academy. The great pleasure of the scholarship is that we annually get to meet the recipients, and/or hear from them. It’s important to us.
After my faith, I hold Interlochen higher than any other recipient of my philanthropy. I tell other people that Interlochen is where I grew up, and it’s where I want to retire. I value the nurturing environment, the academic excellence and the artistic growth the students experience. The pursuit of excellence makes it worthwhile. When I go to a performance at Interlochen, I don’t go to see the professionals. I go to see the students perform.
We put Interlochen in our estate plans for several reasons. First, Interlochen is important to me. Next, we believe students should have the chance to go to a school where their talent is appreciated, and at Interlochen a student’s talent is paramount. Last, I want to make sure Interlochen keeps going for a long time.
Interlochen is in my will because it’s the last time I’ll be able to make a gift and make sure the scholarship carries on. The bequest is to the endowment and not a restricted fund. All of our children know that we wish our bequest to Interlochen’s endowment to carry on our commitment to scholarship support.”