On the Road with Orchestra, Band and Choir: The 50th Tour

Six concerts. Six cities. 52 adults. 207 Musicians. 2,200 miles. 2,250 boxed meals. The numbers tell an important part of the story about the Academy’s 2012 music tour. Specifically, it was big, comparable in size to the groups that Joe Maddy took to the World’s Fairs in 1933 and 1939.

On Monday, March 19, a caravan of five busses, two cargo trucks and several cars departed Interlochen for Grand Rapids. After an afternoon rehearsal, Interlochen’s ensembles gave their first tour performance at DeVos Hall. Over the next week, the students performed for audiences in Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C., and New York City. “Each stop on the tour was a remarkable opportunity for our alumni to reconnect with Interlochen and discover what our students are doing today,” said Gary Gatzke, director of alumni engagement.

In addition to the many alumni who attended the concerts as guests, each performance featured two prominent Academy alumni. Violinist Jorja Fleezanis and clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein joined the orchestra and band respectively for the first four performances of the tour. During the last two performances the ensembles welcomed violinist Ida Kavafian and clarinetist David Shifrin.

"I had the most wonderful nostalgia tour of my life traveling with the Interlochen Arts Academy orchestra, band and chorus on their 50th anniversary national March tour, retracing my own excitements from my first ever tour with my Interlochen orchestra of 1967," said Academy alumna and guest artist Jorja Fleezanis. "To witness the joy and thrill it brought the current students underscored yet again the magnificent education and mission Interlochen continues to provide the talented youth of this country. Bravo Interlochen!"

In addition to the many performances, students also had opportunities to participate in workshops. In Detroit, musicians and administrators from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra volunteered their time to lead sessions with Academy musicians. And in New York City, members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra led students in sessions that emphasized the orchestra's distinctive collaborative approach to music-making.  

While the schedule was demanding, students still had opportunities to get out and experience the tour cities. Students attended a performance at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, visited the Art Institute of Chicago, toured the sites on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. and attended performances on Broadway in New York City.

“This really sparked a lot of nostalgia from the alumni,” said Gatzke. “Seeing a group of talented musicians in a live performance, touring the country on bus – it brought back a lot of great memories. The current students were sharing an experience that was so similar to those that our alumni once experienced… except our students have wifi on their buses.”

The tour was also extensively documented on the Interlochen Facebook page. You can see the image gallery here.

The 50th Anniversary Tour Presenting Sponsors are:

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation
Abbot Downing
Allen B. Cutting Foundation
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Additional 50th Anniversary Tour support provided by:

The Baumbusch Foundation
Cecilia Benner
Dr. Leslie Ellen Brown
The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation
Nathan and Alexis Drabek
The Lois and Philip Macht Family Philanthropic Fund of
THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
Larry and Jane Solomon