Explore the history of Interlochen from founding to present day.

Interlochen Arts Camp in 1928

In 1928, the National High School Orchestra Camp opened in Interlochen, Michigan.


Interlochen Arts Camp Joseph Maddy with John Philips Sousa

From the start, Interlochen Arts Camp (as it is now known) attracted high profile musicians and artists, such as John Philips Sousa. Pictured here during a visit in 1930. 


Interlochen Arts Camp in 1945

By the mid 40s, Interlochen Arts Camp added several new artistic majors, including visual arts. Here, Maude Hoffmaster works with a student in the Fine Arts Building in 1945.

Interlochen Arts Camp in 1951

With new programs came a need for new spaces. In 1951, the Dance Arts Building opened along the shores of Green Lake to accommodate demand. 

Interlochen Arts Academy in the 1960s

During the 1960s, Interlochen opened Interlochen Arts Academy, launched Interlochen Public Radio, and formed Interlochen Presents.

Mary Oliver at Interlochen Center for the Arts

With support from the Ford Foundation, the Creative Writing department officially launched at Interlochen in 1976. Over the years, the program has hosted a number of high profile guests such as Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver (IAC/NMC 51) in 1986.

Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs during From the Top

Interlochen has played host to a number of world-renowned arts programs like NPRs From The Top. Photographed here in 2015.

Interlochen Arts Academy student performs at the NY Phil in 2016

In 2016, the Arts Academy Orchestra and Dance Division members performed at the New York Philharmonic Biennial.


Interlochen Arts Academy at New World Center in Miami

In early 2020, Interlochen Arts Academy staged an interdisciplinary performance at the New World Center in Miami, Florida.

Arts Academy students perform MUKTI at David Geffen Hall.

In March 2023, Arts Academy students premiered the original multidisciplinary work MUKTI: A Movement of Liberation at David Geffen Hall in New York City.

Sydney James Harcourt and Amber Cierra Merrit star in the world premiere of Edmonia

Sydney James Harcourt (left) and Amber Cierra Merritt (right) star in the May 2024 world premiere production of Edmonia.






  • The Motion Picture Arts and Comparative Arts divisions change their names to Film & New Media and Interdisciplinary Arts, respectively.
  • 118 Arts Academy students from all seven majors present an interdisciplinary performance, "One," at the New World Center in Miami, Florida.
  • Interlochen Arts Camp holds its 93rd season virtually through Interlochen Online. 
  • Interlochen Arts Camp division names are revised to reflect the gender diversity of Arts Camp students. 


  • Creative writer Sophie Paquette is named Interlochen Arts Academy's 46th Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy students present two performances, both titled RESOLVE, in New York City. One performance, an original interdisciplinary work, is presented at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. The other, a performance of Clint Needham's ballet "Resolve," is performed by the Arts Academy Band and Dance Company at Carnegie Hall. 
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra presents a performance in Kresge Auditorium, and several members of the orchestra lead master classes for Arts Camp students. The events mark the orchestra's first visit to Interlochen since 1996. 
  • Interlochen breaks ground on a renovation and expansion to the Hildegarde Lewis Dance Center. 
  • Interlochen receives a $4 million gift from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, the largest single gift in its history. The gift enables the construction of Dow House, a convertible residence hall with guest artist suites. 
  • Interlochen Arts Camp adds several new programs, including: Music Production and Engineering (High School and Intermediate); Theatre Improvisation; Contemporary Musical Theatre Showcase; Musical Theatre Revue; Slam Poetry Institute; Intermediate Animation; and Pre-College Portfolio Intensive. 


  • Nathan Ginter is named Interlochen Arts Academy's 45th Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Ginter is the first Motion Picture Arts student selected as a Presidential Scholar.
  • Arts Academy creative writing student Darius Atefat-Peckham is selected as a National Student Poet—the second Interlochen student to receive the honor. 


  • Continuing the collaboration between the two institutions, musicians from the New York Philharmonic perform at Interlochen Arts Academy. Arts Academy musicians perform a chamber concert at the Lincoln Center.
  • The Visual Arts division begins a collaboration with the Cowell Family Cancer Center on the Aesthetics of Health project.
  • Interlochen breaks ground on their first-ever unified home for music.
  • Alexa Bleasdale-Curnutte becomes Interlochen Arts Academy's 44th Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
  • Trey Devey takes office as the president of Interlochen Center for the Arts.
  • Interlochen Arts Camp celebrates its 90th season.


  • Lee Dennison's posthumous gift results in the design and construction of the Dennison Center for Recreation and Wellness.
  • CREATE AMAZING: The Campaign for Interlochen launches to the public.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and Dance Company perform at the NY Phil Biennial to great fanfare and review.
  • Interlochen Arts Camp adds the new Fashion Design program.
  • A gift from the Corson Family enables the renovation of the waterfront and the creation of Corson Park.
  • Jeffrey S. Kimpton announces his intent to retire from the presidency. Trey Devey is selected as his successor.


  • President Jeffrey Kimpton wins the Jeffrey Lawrence Award.
  • Interlochen is awarded the Apple Distinguished Program honor.
  • Oonagh Davis is named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.


  • Junior Dance and Visual Arts programs are added to Interlochen Arts Camp.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy senior Kira Bursky's film "Hello from Malaysia" is featured at the first White House Student Film Festival.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy launches an official conservatory year.
  • Interlochen Presents celebrates its 50-year anniversary.
  • Arts Academy theatre students perform Sonnets for an Old Century at Scotland's Fringe Festival.


  • The Logan Arts Leadership Institute launches.
  • Interlochen Arts Camp's Junior Musical Theatre program launches.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy is chosen as the first American high school to collaborate with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
  • Interlochen Public Radio celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • Arts Academy senior Sojourner Ahebee is named a National Student Poet at the White House in Washington, D.C.


  • Interlochen Arts Academy celebrates its 50th anniversary with Academy student performances around the country.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy adds the new Singer-Songwriter major starting in the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Creative writing student Nicole Acton becomes the 42nd Presidential Scholar from Interlochen Arts Academy.
  • Interlochen hosts its 2012 Symposium, "Information, Space and Time: The Arts, Creativity and Learning in the 21st Century."


  • The new Upton-Morley Pavilion, an outdoor performance venue and rehearsal facility, opens.
  • Interlochen Arts Academy creates educational partnerships with two leading arts programs in Asia: the High School of the Shanghai Conservatory in Shanghai, China, and the School for the Arts in Singapore.
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts wins a W3 Award for its video “Moments.” Interlochen was recognized as “Best in Show” in the Non-Profit Web Video category.
  • Creative writing student Delali Ayivor becomes the 41st Presidential Scholar from Interlochen Arts Academy.


  • The Mallory-Towsley Center for Arts Leadership opens, providing a home for Interlochen College of Creative Arts programs for adults.


  • Interlochen Arts Academy adds the Comparative Arts major.
  • Theatre student Steven Johnson becomes the 40th Presidential Scholar from Interlochen Arts Academy.


  • The Herbert H. and Barbara C. Dow Center for Visual Arts is completed. The project was funded in part by the Dow Foundation, which gave $3 million toward the project.
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts is honored at the 23rd Annual Governor’s Awards for Arts and Culture.


  • Interlochen receives the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence.
  • The new Bonisteel Library opens.
  • The DeRoy Center for Film Studies opens. It is the only building of its kind, dedicated to teaching film at the secondary level.
  • Van Cliburn returns at age 72 to play his final benefit concert, celebrating the 45th anniversary of his first appearance at Interlochen.


  • The Motion Picture Arts is added as a new arts discipline. It is the first new discipline to be added since 1976.
  • Interlochen College of Creative Arts launches its first season of educational programs for adults.
  • The $2 million Harvey Theatre Annex is dedicated to longtime Interlochen theatre director Jim Harvey.


  • Jeffrey S. Kimpton becomes Interlochen's seventh president.


  • The Writing House opens. It is the first structure of its kind, dedicated to the development of high school writers. An anonymous $2 million gift allows construction to begin.


  • Interlochen Public Radio launches a second station, featuring an all-news format.


  • Interlochen completes campus-wide renovations and new construction totaling $16.1 million.


  • Two new buildings are opened on campus: the Harvey Theatre and the Edward P. and Jessie Frohlich Piano and Percussion Building.
  • Edward J. Downing is elected the sixth President of Interlochen.
  • The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, led by Keith Lockhart, performs for the first of seven consecutive summers.


  • The World Youth Symphony Orchestra performs at the Atlanta Olympics. Works include the world premiere of "Umoja: Each One of Us Counts" by Alvin Singleton.
  • The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra is featured on live television as part of the Public Broadcasting Service's "The World's Largest Concert" event.


  • Rich O'Dell is named Interlochen's fifth president.


  • A major gift helps fund a new studio and office building for Interlochen Public Radio (IPR).
  • The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, led by John Williams, performs for the first time at Camp.


  • The Phoenix Theatre is dedicated for year-round Camp and Academy theatre performances.
  • Interlochen hosts the GM-Seventeen Magazine National Concerto Competition.


  • The Arts Academy Orchestra and Chorus perform concerts in Detroit and New York as part of the Mozart Bicentennial Celebration.  


  • The National Music Camp changes its name to Interlochen Arts Camp.
  • Guest conductors and performers for Camp include Maxim Shostakovich, Neeme Jarvi, Itzhak Perlman, Beaux Arts Trio, and Kronos Quartet.
  • Neeme Jarvi and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra conduct their first annual residency at Interlochen. The residency program will continue through 1996. 
  • Interlochen's Board of Trustees approves a campus master plan developed by architectural firm Sasaki and Associates. 


  • Roger Jacobi retires and Dean Boal takes the helm as the new president of Interlochen.


  • Itzhak Perlman performs as guest violinist with the World Youth Symphony Orchestra. He will appear for six consecutive summers at the Camp.


  • Interlochen receives the National Governor's Association Award for distinguished service to the arts.
  • Lorin Maazel returns after 48 years to conduct the World Youth Symphony Orchestra in celebration of the 60th season of Camp.


  • Maxim Shostakovich and Gunther Schuller appear as guest conductors of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra.
  • "The Two Bears" sculpture by Marshall Fredericks is donated by Alden B. Dow Associates and placed prominently in front of Corson Auditorium.


  • The Academy Orchestra plays a concert in Orchestra Hall in Detroit.


  • The Cleveland Orchestra performs during Camp, with Eduardo Mata conducting.


  • Alan Hovhaness conducts the Arts Academy Orchestra in the world premiere of his Symphony No. 40 in the new Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall.


  • Dendrinos Chapel and Recital Hall and the Margaret Upton Memorial Organ, a 45-rank Aeolian Skinner instrument, are dedicated.


  • The Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs during Camp, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting and holding a composition class.
  • Judith Shulevitz and Nicholas Thorndike become the first of 50 Arts Academy students to be named Presidential Scholars in the Arts—more than any other single high school.


  • The Interlochen Arts Festival reappears for the summer, and remains to the present day. Guest artists include Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Benny Goodman, and Fred Waring.
  • The first Arts Academy "Collage" performance is held, inaugurating an annual tradition.


  • George Wilson retires, succeeded by Ed Downing as Director of the National Music Camp.
  • Van Cliburn plays the last of 18 consecutive annual benefit concerts for the Camp.
  • Renowned soprano and Camp alumna Jessye Norman performs Wagner.


  • President Jimmy Carter writes a letter to the Camp, congratulating the organization on its 50th season.
  • A group of Camp alumni commissions Howard Hanson to write A Sea Symphony for Choir and Orchestra in honor of the National Music Camp's 50th season. Hanson conducts the world premiere.
  • Eminent composer Krzysztof Penderecki conducts his own works with Arts Academy ensembles.
  • The National Music Camp and Interlochen Arts Academy are united as one institution, Interlochen Center for the Arts.


  • The Creative Writing division is established with a grant from the Ford Foundation.
  • Lukas Foss conducts the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Bicentennial Chorus in the world premiere of his American Cantata.
  • Former Camp instructor and Pulitzer Prize winner George Crumb attends two concerts of his music by the Academy Orchestra and students.


  • The Grand Traverse Performing Arts Center, featuring the 1,000-seat Corson Auditorium, is dedicated. Visitors include President Gerald Ford and the First Lady, Bob Hope, and Benny Goodman.
  • The girls' dormitory is renamed Thor Johnson House in honor of the late Thor Johnson.


  • Over 130 concerts, programs, and exhibitions are presented off-campus in 73 Michigan cities and towns during Interlochen Outreach, sponsored by the Michigan Council for the Arts.


  • Gunther Schuller conducts the World Youth Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of his Three Nocturnes for Orchestra.
  • The Arts Academy Chorale performs several concerts in Denmark, becoming the first Interlochen ensemble to tour Europe.


  • The Arts Camp jazz program is inaugurated with a concert by the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Concerts by numerous jazz luminaries will follow throughout the 1970s.


  • Roger Jacobi is elected the third president of Interlochen.


  • Aaron Copland visits the Camp to conduct the World Youth Symphony Orchestra and the High School Choir in his own works.
  • Bernard Heiden gives a lecture-concert of his works, featuring the American premiere of his Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra with Janos Starker as the soloist.


  • Lukas Foss gives a lecture-concert of his works, performing with Academy students.
  • The "Dave Brubeck at Interlochen" special features Brubeck performing his works with his own quartet and the Arts Academy Orchestra and Choir.


  • LIFE magazine publishes a 12-page feature on the Arts Academy.
  • Violinist Isaac Stern gives a benefit performance for Interlochen Arts Academy.
  • Noted conductor Sixten Ehrling leads both the Camp and Academy orchestras.


  • Aaron Copland visits the Academy to lecture, perform, and conduct.
  • Karl Haas is named the president of both Interlochen Arts Camp and Arts Academy.
  • The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra and Dancers perform at the Expo 67 World's Fair in Montreal.


  • The International Society for Music Education holds their seventh International Conference, the first in the Western Hemisphere, at Interlochen.
  • The world premiere of Songs of Walt Whitman by Norman Dello Joio is performed, commissioned by the ISME conference.
  • The Bell Telephone Hour broadcasts a program featuring Van Cliburn's performance at Interlochen.
  • Interlochen founder and president Joseph E. Maddy dies.
  • George C. Wilson begins 13 years as Director of the National Music Camp.


  • Renowned conductor Thor Johnson completes his first of three years as Director of Interlochen Arts Academy and conductor of the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra.


  • Kresge Auditorium is re-opened after a major expansion of the original 1948 building, including a full roof and new seating. Funding was provided by the Kresge Foundation.
  • The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs at Lincoln Center for the first time, premiering Variations and Fugue, Op. 18 by Alan Hovhaness, a work commissioned by the Academy.
  • The first major American orchestra performs at Interlochen: Eugene Ormandy and the "Fabulous Philadelphians."
  • Luci Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson, narrates Peter and the Wolf with the Camp orchestras.


  • WIAA, the Interlochen FM radio station, is built and begins operation.
  • The Jessie V. Stone Recreation Center (now Bonisteel Library), the Dow Science Rotunda, and the Giddings Concourse are dedicated.
  • NBC's The Today Show with Hugh Downs telecasts from the Camp.
  • Norma Lee Browning publishes a biography about Maddy titled "Joe Maddy of Interlochen."


  • Interlochen Arts Academy, the country's first independent fine arts boarding high school, opens with 132 students.
  • 103 musicians and 14 ballet dancers perform for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy on the White House lawn.


  • Van Cliburn begins his long association with Interlochen and presents his first benefit concert for the institution. The concerts evolve into a regular performing arts series.
  • NBC presents weekly taped programs, The Best of Interlochen, which are broadcast around the world in 18 languages.


  • The United States Information Agency makes a documentary film about Interlochen called Music in the Forest for international distribution by the U.S. State Department.


  • Gifts from the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation pay for construction of a new Interlochen Bowl Hotel, later re-named Stone Student Center.


  • Pinecrest Cafeteria, a cafeteria for junior and intermediate girls, is constructed.


  • Two winterized dormitories, Brahms and Beethoven, are built. They will serve as the first dormitories for Interlochen Arts Academy.
  • The Walter E. Hastings Museum is constructed. 


  • The Camp premieres three operas: Kittiwake Island by Sundgaard and Wilder; What Men Live By by Bohuslav Martinu; A Matinee Idyll by Hamilton Forrest.


  • The Camp orchestra presents the world premiere of John Henry for orchestra by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Aaron Copland.


  • The Camp celebrates its 25th anniversary with the completion of the new Joseph Maddy Administration Building.


  • The new Dance Arts Building on the shore of Green Lake is dedicated. It is later renamed for Hildegarde Lewis, creator of the National Music Camp dance program.


  • The Camp's band presents the world premiere of "George Washington Bridge" for concert band by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer William Schuman.


  • The Kresge Assembly Hall, made possible by a donation from the Kresge Foundation, is completed and "Dedicated to the Promotion of World Friendship Through the Universal Language of the Arts."


  • The rapidly growing number of campers below high school age are split into junior and intermediate divisions for the first time.


  • The Fine Arts Building is dedicated. This fieldstone building, designed by Maud Miller Hoffmaster, houses the growing Arts Division of the Camp.


  • Camp Interlochen for Girls (acquired in fall 1943) is incorporated into the National Music Camp.


  • The National Music Camp adds junior programs for students below the high school age. 


  • The Camp begins a decades-long affiliation with the University of Michigan.
  • Camp Penn Loch for Boys is acquired and incorporated into the National Music Camp.


  • The Camp makes its own color-sound film called Symphony of Young America for national distribution.


  • Hildegarde Lewis establishes a dance department at the National Music Camp.
  • There's Magic in Music, a Paramount feature film, is based on and partly filmed at the National Music Camp. The film premieres in 1941.


  • Nine-year-old Lorin Maazel conducts the Camp orchestra in a high-profile performance at the New York World's Fair. Maazel goes on to become the conductor of the New York Philharmonic.
  • The Visual Arts program is established. Landscape painter and muralist F. Carlos Lopez serves as the program's first instructor.


  • NBC producer William Dow Boutwell establishes a radio program at the Camp.


  • Percy Grainger joins the faculty.
  • Apollo Hall is donated by the Wurlitzer Company.


  • The first accepted textbook on training school marching bands is written at the Camp.


  • The Camp season ends with performances by both the Band and Orchestra at the Chicago Century of Progress World's Fair. The ensembles premiere new works by Edgar Stillman Kelley, Charles Sanford Skilton, Carl Busch, Leo Sowerby, and Edwin Franko Goldman.


  • The Camp's name is officially changed to the National Music Camp.
  • Edwin Franko Goldman visits Interlochen and presents the Camp with an original march, "The Interlochen Bowl." The march's trio will become traditional Camp song, "Sound the Call."


  • John Philip Sousa returns to Interlochen and conducts 600 young musicians. The performance is attended by an audience of nearly 10,000 and is the first National High School Band concert broadcast on NBC. He premieres his final march—"The Northern Pines"—and donates its royalties to a Camp scholarship fund.
  • Howard Hanson conducts the first Interlochen performance of his Symphony No. 2 "Romantic." The "Interlochen Theme" is excerpted from this work.


  • Maddy and an orchestra of 184 musicians give concerts at the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
  • John Philip Sousa makes his first visit to Interlochen.
  • National radio broadcasts begin at Interlochen, raising the Camp's national profile.


  • Camp enrollment doubles to 232 with the addition of programs for post-high school alumni, college students, and adult music educators. 
  • The Camp holds its first-ever concerto competition. Winners perform with the National High School Orchestra.
  • The Camp presents its first operetta, The Pirates of Penzance. 
  • The Northern Michigan Festival Chorus is founded.


  • The Interlochen Bowl is completed. 
  • The National High School Orchestra and Band Camp opens on June 24 with 115 campers, 22 faculty members, and 18 counselors. Guest conductors include Howard Hanson, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Earl Moore, Leo Sowerby, Carl Busch, and Edgar Stillman Kelley.
  • The National High School Orchestra presents its first performance of Franz Liszt's "Les Preludes" during the final concert of the summer. 


  • Inspired by the success of the second National High School Orchestra performance, Maddy founds the National High School Orchestra Camp and begins a nationwide search for a location. Michigan businessman Willis Pennington hears about Maddy's mission and offers to sell him a plot of land adjacent to his boys' camp and hotel in Interlochen, Michigan.


  • 230 students from 30 states are invited to perform in the first-ever National High School Orchestra. Maddy leads the orchestra in a performance at the Music Supervisor's National Conference in Detroit, Michigan.


  • Maddy and Giddings publish "The Universal Teacher," the first textbook for class instruction of band and orchestra in the public schools. It remains one of the most important documents in the history of music education.


  • Joseph Maddy meets Thaddeus P. Giddings while studying choral conducting in Chautauqua, New York.