The Music and Art of the African Diaspora
A Three-Year Interdisciplinary Exploration
In the fall of 2021, Interlochen Arts Academy launched a three-year exploration of the history, culture, and artistry of the African diaspora. Through an innovative curriculum, world-renowned guest artists, and a thematic opera production, Interlochen’s students are encountering firsthand the powerful creative force generated by people of native African origin in the United States.
African Diaspora Guest Artists
Guest artists have included a lineup of stellar musical talents, including award winning composer Dr. Bill Banfield; acclaimed vocalists Davóne Tines and Laurin Talese; jazz pianist, composer, and conductor Billy Childs; and jazz pianist and R&B singer Patrice Rushen. Additional guest artists are scheduled to work with students in all divisions, including dance, film, creative writing, visual arts, and interdisciplinary arts students.
The African Diaspora exploration will culminate in the spring of 2024 with the premiere of the opera Edmonia, a musical dramatization of the life of African American and Native American (Ojibwe) sculptor Edmonia Lewis. Since spring 2022, Interlochen has welcomed the residency of Edmonia creator Dr. Bill Banfield as he workshops his opera on Interlochen’s campus.
This groundbreaking educational experience demonstrates Interlochen Arts Academy’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom and beyond.
Interlochen African Diaspora News and Stories
President Devey previews the highlights of the 2023-24 academic year—from world-premiere performances and a groundbreaking film collaboration to a new IPR recording project and online classes for adult learners.
An award-winning composer, Banfield is currently working with Academy students, faculty, and guests to stage the world premiere production of his hybrid opera, ‘Edmonia.’
Led by composer and musicologist Dr. William Banfield, the series provides opportunities for Interlochen Arts Academy students to engage with diverse artists and premiere Banfield’s opera, “Edmonia.”