Classical Performance at Arts Academy

Why Study Classical Performance

Do you dream of playing in the greatest symphonies and orchestras alongside today's most talented instrumentalists? Within Interlochen's world-renowned program, you’ll hone your skills and prepare for your future as a musician and performer.

What You’ll Learn

Interlochen Arts Academy is the top-rated boarding arts high school for young classical musicians. You’ll take a combination of studio classes and private lessons, play in small and large ensembles, and study music theory while refining your musicianship. 

You'll learn from accomplished instructors with extensive teaching and performance experience. They’ll serve as your mentors, role models, and career coaches, too. While offering you personalized attention to help you master your instrument, your faculty will also guide you toward next steps: helping you find the college and career path that is right for you. As alumni and faculty for many of the most prestigious conservatories and undergraduate music programs in the country, your instructors will help you grow your professional networks and ensure your audition material represents your very best. 

As a student at our boarding school for classical performance, you will:

  • Synthesize and integrate the technical foundation, musicianship, and ensemble skills needed to matriculate to competitive conservatory and university programs 
  • Incorporate posture, breathing, and instrumental technique into daily practice routines
  • Develop technical proficiency through performance on your principal instrument
  • Sight read and interpret music from various styles and time periods

How to Apply

Core Curriculum

Audition Requirements

For more information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, visit Academy Academics.

Explore Ensembles


A recipient of the American Prize, the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra performs an advanced repertoire that includes symphonies, concerti, contemporary works, and original compositions.


Wind Symphony

The American Prize-winning Interlochen Arts Academy Wind Symphony presents a diverse and challenging repertoire in regular live, prerecorded, and public radio performances.



Assembled at the faculty's discretion, chamber music ensembles are offered as electives in the Music division. Each ensemble is coached by one of the Arts Academy's acclaimed instrumental faculty.


Brass Choir

The Brass Choir emphasizes the techniques unique to brass instruments through regular rehearsal and performance opportunities. The ensemble presents a diverse repertoire that ranges from renaissance works to contemporary arrangements.



The Interlochen Arts Academy Percussion Ensemble is an advanced group composed entirely of percussion majors. The ensemble performs challenging, college-level repertoire that encompasses all instruments and genres.



The Choir welcomes students of all majors who are passionate about singing—presenting works from a variety of genres, musical eras, and geographic origins and performing regularly at events both on and off campus.


Opera Workshop

The Opera Workshop offers singing actors opportunities to study, rehearse, and perform selections from classical and contemporary operas. The company performs at least one showcase each semester with support from the Arts Academy's resident costume, lighting, and scenic designers.


Meet Dr. Leslie Dunner

Learn more about our Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra Conductor and the Classical Performance concentration. 

Our Chairs

Tom Childs

Thomas Childs, D.M.A.

Chair of Music Fundamentals; Instructor of Music Theory

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Jeff Norris

Jeffery Norris

Chair of Voice; Instructor of Voice

231.276.7829 231.276.7829 Send Email
Dane Philipsen

Dane Philipsen, D.M.A.

Instructor of Oboe

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Tom Riccobono

Tom Riccobono

Chair of Brass; Instructor of Low Brass

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Our Conductors

Leslie Dunner

Leslie B. Dunner, D.M.A

Conductor, Arts Academy Orchestra

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Dr. Matthew Schlomer

Matthew Schlomer, D.M.A.

Chair of Large Ensembles; Conductor, Arts Academy Wind Symphony; Instructor of Classical Saxophone

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Our Faculty

Interlochen Arts Academy is home to the today's leading music educators for high school students. Scroll through to learn more about our instrumentalist faculty.

All Faculty

Keith Aleo

Keith A. Aleo

Assoc. Director of Music for Classical Performance

Karen Benda

Karen Benda, D.M.A.

Instructor of Clarinet, Instructor of Alexander Technique

Laura Osgood Brown

Laura Osgood Brown, D.M.A.

Instructor of Voice & Opera

Matthew Cochran

Matthew Cochran, D.M.

Instructor of Guitar

Joan Holland

Joan Raeburn Holland

Nelson Family Harp Chair

Kara Huber

Kara Huber, D.M.A.

Marjorie Wood Drackett Piano Chair

Lauren Hunt

Lauren Hunt, D.M.A.

Linda VanSickle Smith French Horn Chair and Director of Brass Studies

Black and white image of clarinetist Emil Khudyev

Emil Khudyev

Instructor of Clarinet

Instructor of Trumpet Ken Larson at Interlochen Arts Academy

Ken Larson

Instructor of Trumpet

TJ Lymenstull

Thomas (T.J.) Lymenstull, D.M.A.

Instructor of Piano

Patrick Owen

Patrick Owen, D.M.A.

Instructor of Cello

Tina Qu

Tina Chang Qu

Instructor of Violin

Ara Sarkissian

Ara Sarkissian

Instructor of Violin

W. Carter Smith

W. Carter Smith, D.M.A.

Conductor of Choral Music

Nancy Stagnitta

Nancy Stagnitta

Instructor of Flute

Eric Stomberg

Eric Stomberg, D.M.A.

Director of Music; Instructor of Bassoon

Cynthia Van Maneen

Cynthia Van Maanen, D.M.A.

Instructor of Music Composition and Theory

Derek Weller

Derek Weller

Instructor of Double Bass

Program Highlights

Music Theory

In addition to working extensively on your instrument, all music majors at the Academy take Music Theory courses. In these courses you’ll receive thorough training in all basic musicianship skills; you’ll preview advanced, college-level theory; and you’ll explore the creative process through composition of concert music.

Awards & Honors

Classical instrument performance students regularly compete and excel in national competitions and award programs. Recent honors include recognition at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Bolz Young Artist Competition, and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts YoungArts competition.

The Music Center

Our state-of-the-art 60,000 square-foot music facility has two 3,500 square-foot rehearsal halls, two recording studios which allow for rehearsal and performance recordings in multiple venues on campus with multiple ensemble and practice rooms, and individual faculty teaching studios. Learn more about The Music Center.

A young woman playing violin

I love Interlochen for the challenges that it presents to its students. All of the classes are demanding and the music is hard, but at the end of the concert cycle or at the end of the semester, you are left with a sense of accomplishment and pride at how far you have come, how much you have learned, and how the experience has changed you.

Lillian, Music

Guest Artists

Classical performance students have learned from and collaborated with the following artists:

  • MaryClare Brzytwa, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Salvatore Champagne, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
  • Tim Church, Black Swamp Percussion
  • Amir Eldan, Oberlin Conservatory of Music
  • Nicholas Goluses, Eastman School of Music at University of Rochester
  • Jason Hainsworth, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • Richie Hawley, Shepherd School of Music at Rice University
  • Mark Holloway, Pacifica Quartet
  • Guy Johnston, Royal Academy of Music
  • Alexander Korsantia, New England Conservatory
  • Timothy McAllister, Soprano Saxophone, PRISM Quartet; Instructor of Saxophone, University of Michigan
  • Otis Murphy, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University
  • Patricia Rogers Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (ret.)
  • Sharon Sparrow, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Richard White, Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University
A man with a bassoon

Advice from an Alum: Keith Buncke (IAA 09-11)

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) principal bassoonist and Academy graduate shares his eight tips for preparing a piece.

Learn from Keith

College Matriculation

Classical performance students regularly enroll in top music programs and conservatories including:

  • Berklee College of Music
  • Boston Conservatory at Berklee
  • California Institute of the Arts
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Curtis Institute of Music
  • Indiana University
  • The Juilliard School
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • New England Conservatory
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oberlin College and Conservatory
  • Rice University
  • San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Rochester
  • University of Southern California
  • Vanderbilt University

See what you can experience at Interlochen.

Come to a high school where young creatives thrive—and see how your unique journey unfolds. Plan your visit, request more information, or apply to Interlochen Arts Academy today.