Sharing the Interlochen Opportunity: Norm Letvin

When Norm Letvin was a young child, before he ever picked up a clarinet, his father took him and his siblings to Interlochen’s campus and said, “This is a wonderful place. I love this place. I love walking through the woods and hearing the music. This is a very special place.”

From those early visits in the 1950s, an Interlochen legacy family was born that includes two generations and eight camp alumni with 46 cumulative years at Interlochen Arts Camp between them.

Norm first attended Interlochen as an Intermediate All-State camper in 1962. “It was a transformative experience for me,” he said. “I always had an incredible passion for serious music. When I first came to Interlochen, I found myself surrounded by like-minded people with a like-minded passion for the arts. That made it home.” Norm returned to Interlochen for three summers in the Intermediate and High School divisions. His brother David attended for one summer.

Although he still plays his clarinet, Norm eventually chose medicine over music. As a professor at the Harvard Medical School, Chief of the Division of Viral Pathogenesis at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Director of the Non-Human Primate Research Program at the NIH Vaccine Research Center, his professional focus is HIV/AIDS research. He and his wife, Marion, raised their four children in the Boston area.

When it came time for his children to pursue their musical interests, Interlochen was a natural choice. Three became long-time campers, often joined by three cousins. Without Interlochen, Norm said, his own children might not share his passion for the arts, something that allows them to enjoy music, opera and theater together as a family. “At Interlochen, they learned to love something that’s central to my life.”

The last Letvin camper finished up three summers ago, but Norm and Marion continue to make their annual visits to campus. “Whether it’s our kids who are playing in the concert or someone else’s, it doesn’t really matter. To hear the diversity of music and the kids at different ages and different levels of development, to experience all of that is just very special.”

Through the years, Norm’s relationship with Interlochen has changed from camper to parent and now donor. “The only way I could afford to go to Interlochen was because I was on complete scholarship every summer. I know in a very personal way how important that scholarship support is. I would not be who I am today without Interlochen, and I want others to have that opportunity.”

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