From the desk of Trey Devey: From collaboration to breakthrough ideas

Recent alumni successes, guest artist performances, and student projects exemplify the boundary-crossing collaborations and multidisciplinary perspective fostered at Interlochen.

Instructor of Voice Doug Peck accompanies a student performer during the musical cabaret

Instructor of Voice Doug Peck (left) accompanies a student performer during the musical cabaret If on a winter's night a traveler.

Dear friends,

You may have heard that Interlochen Arts Academy alum César Alvarez recently received the Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre, a prestigious award that honors an outstanding lyricist. In learning about César’s career, I’m struck by the central role of collaboration. A self-described “communitarian artist,” César—who studied saxophone at Interlochen—frequently collaborates with other artists, including their partner, visual artist and sculptor Emily Orling, and composer and fellow Dartmouth College professor and Interlochen alum Ash Fure.

I often hear from alumni that the creative collaborations they pursued at Interlochen set them on enriching new paths—and serve as lifelong sources of inspiration. Guidance and support from seasoned mentors strengthened their confidence at a formative time, while immersion in a multidisciplinary artistic community broadened their perspective: It’s a powerful combination that makes Interlochen a wellspring for creative capacity.

This semester at Interlochen Arts Academy, distinguished guest artists continue our tradition of mentorship. Seasoned cinematographer and Academy alumnus Mike Gioulakis, for example, worked closely with Film & New Media students, leading a two-day master class, lighting demo, and blocking “ride along.” Over in Harvey, many of our theatre students have been workshopping an original performance piece with actor and playwright Morgan Breon. Under her guidance, students will draw on their personal narratives to present The Prōcess this Friday and Saturday, as they recently discussed in this 9&10 News segment.

We’re also thrilled to announce Interlochen Arts Camp’s continued collaboration with the acclaimed Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The world-renowned orchestra will perform, its musicians will lead master classes and rehearse and perform side-by-side with students, and DSO Music Director Jader Bignamini will conduct the World Youth Symphony Orchestra as part of our 95th season.

Several upcoming guest artists exemplify the boundary-crossing collaborations that Interlochen fosters. In April, renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine joins our Academy Orchestra as the soloist for Violin Concerto No. 2 by Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs—an exciting new work we co-commissioned. The following week, Billy Childs takes center stage again when he joins the acclaimed Ying Quartet and jazz singer Laurin Talese for another multigenre performance.

All the while, our students and faculty take part in multidisciplinary collaborations that energize and enrich our entire Interlochen community. On Feb. 27, for example, Instructor of Voice Doug Peck performed with and led musical theatre, classical music, and singer-songwriter students in an evening of musical cabaret—produced by theatre design & production students under the direction of faculty member Stephen John. Spoken-word selections from Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel, If on a winter's night a traveler, served as connective tissue between musical numbers.

For any career path, interdisciplinary perspective and the capacity to collaborate with diverse peers will open doors to breakthrough ideas. I’m reminded of Arts Academy alumna Holly Gilbert (IAA 86-88), the director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s High Altitude Observatory, who studied cello at Interlochen. “Being embedded with incredibly creative people at Interlochen has given me a unique perspective in attacking science,” she said. “I consult with others, preferably a diverse group of scientists, to develop potential solutions. Often, one solution is not obvious—nor is it the only approach.”

Alvarez, the Kleban Prize winner, also credits Interlochen for its formative focus on collaboration: “Interlochen Arts Academy had a tremendous impact on my development as an artist,” they said. “I started a 16-piece salsa band during my time at the Arts Academy. That ensemble was very good practice for the type of collective music making that has become the backbone of my professional work. Even though I didn’t start writing songs until college… so much of the groundwork for my life as a composer and band leader was laid at Interlochen.”

I hope that the convergence of the arts at Interlochen broadens your perspectives and provides inspiration for decades to come.

With best wishes,