From the desk of Trey Devey: World friendship through the arts

Interlochen’s legacy of nurturing world friendship resonates today with particular urgency.

Black and white photo of Kresge Auditorium

The dedication of Kresge Auditorium at Interlochen Center for the Arts on August 1, 1948.

Dear Friends,

In just one week, young Interlochen Arts Academy artists from 24 countries will collaborate to present Festival, our end-of-year multidisciplinary showcase of student artwork and performances. I hope you'll join us for this exhilarating celebration of the arts on campus or online; many performances will be streamed live on our website.

All the while we prepare with joyous anticipation for the return of our first full Interlochen Arts Camp season since 2019—and the arrival of nearly 3,000 students ages 8 to 18 from around the world. This summer we will welcome young creatives from nearly every U.S. state and from 36 countries including Bermuda, Brazil, China, Italy, Poland, South Africa, and Ukraine. These young people will share cabins and meals, collaborate artistically, and form lifelong friendships, inspiring our community and beyond.

Interlochen's core commitment to fostering global and cultural perspective dates back to our pioneering founder, Joseph E. Maddy, who championed the power of the arts to unite a fractured world. As we witness the horrors of war in Ukraine, our legacy of nurturing world friendship resonates with particular urgency, and remains central to Interlochen's identity.

Maddy's interest in advocating for international cooperation can be traced to the beginning of the Cold War. Mobilized by the formation of the United Nations following World War II, he guided the student council at Camp in adopting a "Charter for Youth" in 1946 which set forth principles of world unity. Two years later, he dedicated the new Kresge Auditorium "to the promotion of world friendship through the universal language of the arts"—emblazoning those emphatic words on stage for all to see.

In the 1950s, Maddy lobbied the federal government for a Camp orchestra tour of Eastern Europe. When he failed to secure federal assistance, he devoted the Camp's own resources to attracting international educators and students. In 1964, Maddy started the International Youth Symphony, the predecessor of the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, composed of students from many nations. Beginning that summer, under Maddy's leadership, the motto "In the arts there are no enemies" was displayed prominently over the Mall entrance to the Giddings Concourse. Two years later, Maddy arranged for the Camp to host the first meeting in America of the International Society of Music Educators.

Maddy often gave remarks at the non-denominational Sunday services that took place during Camp at Kresge Auditorium. At one service in 1964, Maddy recalled meeting six Russian composers, including Dmitri Shostakovich and Dmitry Kabalevsky, in Washington, D.C. Maddy had been invited to a reception as a member of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "People to People" committee, which sought to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities. (I invite you to listen to Maddy's full remarks.)

"This is what Mr. Kabalevsky said," Maddy told the audience of Camp students, faculty, and staff. '"If our governments could get along together as well as our musicians, there would never be a war.'"

In a few short weeks, an international community will once again come together in the northern woods of Michigan. Youth from all artistic disciplines and every corner of the world will meet as strangers and emerge as lifelong friends. Yes, their shared creative pursuits will produce a level of artistry almost unimaginable for such young artists, but the power of this experience extends far beyond the notes, choreography, and brushstrokes. Here, our youth learn that we can do more than we ever thought possible when we work together.

Friends, as we celebrate our global community and welcome our 95th Camp season, let us champion and carry forward Interlochen's legacy of promoting world friendship. Now, more than ever, we should consider how we are infusing these enduring values of Interlochen into our daily lives. And now, more than ever, our young artists must join together across cultures, nationalities, and ideologies as a positive force for good. Our world needs more Interlochen.

With best wishes,

Trey Devey, President