Ten hours before a state-issued emergency order took effect requiring all Michigan high schools to pivot to virtual learning, our Arts Academy dance students rushed to the stage to perform and film their new production of The Nutcracker, four weeks ahead of schedule. The heroic, last-minute performance, along with efforts across the Academy’s artistic divisions to adapt to new constraints, ensured that many end-of-semester webcasts of student performances would stream as scheduled.
This Saturday, I hope you’ll tune in to this poignant performance of The Nutcracker and then join us again on Tuesday for the perennial holiday favorite, Sounds of the Season. Created with equal parts tenacity and talent, they are a testament to the dedication and discipline of our entire community. We are deeply honored that this year, for the first time, Detroit Public Television, the largest public television station in Michigan, will broadcast Interlochen’s Nutcracker. Viewers can tune in on Friday, Dec. 25, at 8 p.m. (or after the program, on demand at dptv.org.)
Since the Arts Academy’s fall semester began Aug. 10, students, faculty, and staff have adapted to rigorous health-and-safety protocols with fortitude and finesse, creating new ways to stage productions, conduct private lessons, exhibit art, share performances, and so much more, all while adjusting to new formats and technologies. Twenty current students and one recent alumna were recently announced as 2021 YoungArts Award winners, showcasing once again the artistic excellence for which we are known. This tradition of excellence extends to the Academy’s academic classes as well, where extraordinary teachers nurture our next generation of citizen artists.
At the same time, faculty and staff are making the Interlochen experience accessible to even more students. Our first-ever virtual College Audition Boot Camp recently welcomed nearly 60 music and theatre students from across the country, and in January, Interlochen Online’s inaugural after-school programs launch with virtual offerings for students in grades 2 through 12 in music, visual arts, creative writing, film and new media, dance, theatre, and interdisciplinary arts. We’re excited Interlochen Online will expand our reach to creative students eager to develop their skills and build community with other young minds who share their interests.
I can't let this moment pass without thanking our students, faculty, and staff for going to extraordinary lengths to support the health and wellness of our community. Astonishingly, over the course of the longest uninterrupted semester in the history of the Academy, we’ve conducted nearly 5,000 COVID-19 tests, with a 0.3% positivity rate and no instances of community transmission on our campus. In every way, our community has risen to meet a daunting obstacle and I could not be more proud.
The challenges we’ve faced this season can make it difficult to focus on the future, but the day will come when we look back at the pandemic and marvel at the music, art, and friendship that sustained our Interlochen community. Thanks to you, we are getting through these historic times together.
I wish you a happy, healthy, and restorative holiday season.