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The power of interdisciplinary perspective and collaboration

When you take part in Festival this week and cheer on your classmates, I hope you'll relish this opportunity to celebrate the convergence of artists and art forms that happens here at Interlochen.

The Popular Music Ensemble in Corson Auditorium

The Popular Music Ensemble performs in Corson Auditorium. 

Dear Students and Families,

As we approach Festival, our unique culminating showcase of artwork and performances, I'm struck by how beautifully this event reflects the interdisciplinary perspective and collaboration we seek to instill at Interlochen.

As you know, this core capacity is one of The Interlochen 5, the defining characteristics of the Arts Academy education. Alumni often tell me the encouragement they received at Interlochen to explore arts disciplines beyond their own is what they value most about their experience. Opportunities for experimentation with new art forms arise organically on our multidisciplinary campus, sparking the curiosity and discovery that propels personal growth.

As always, Festival will feature presentations and performances by students from each of our seven arts disciplines, as well as rich multidisciplinary collaborations. For example, students in this spring's Music, Dance, and Film class joined forces to create a work of video art that seamlessly combines music, movement, and moving image.

Under the leadership of conductor Dr. Matthew Schlomer, as well as Katie Dorn, instructor of contemporary dance, and Michael Mittelstaedt, director of film & new media, students from all three majors listened to composer Jonathan Dove's "Figures in the Garden" as a starting point for collaboration. In sharing their responses to the music through their respective mediums, each artist continuously informed the others, eventually leading to a unified expressive work.

In this way, Interlochen students often transcend what may seem like limitations to find new ways of thinking and creating art.

Fittingly, at Commencement later this week, an exemplary interdisciplinary artist will address our graduating seniors. Sydney James Harcourt (IAA 94-97), a Grammy Award-winning stage and screen performer known for starring roles in the Broadway production and film version of Hamilton, started out at Interlochen as a voice major but discovered his love for dance when he was offered the opportunity to perform in a fully staged production of The Nutcracker. "It blew my mind open," Sydney said recently in a video interview with Director of Interdisciplinary Arts Clyde Sheets.

Sydney's passion for interdisciplinary projects inspire his frequent returns to our campus to work with students and spark their interest in multiplatform collaborations. Most recently, he joined Clyde in producing and directing "One," a multidisciplinary work that was performed by students at Miami's New World Center in March of 2020.

In describing Interlochen, Sydney calls it "a place for people who think way outside the box, and are always dreaming of some new and crazy and big idea or fantasy—because that's the only way to manifest a change in your life."

His words speak to the power of interdisciplinary perspective and collaboration. Over the course of your lifetime, drawing connections across artistic disciplines and other fields of discovery will be the basis for breakthrough ideas and innovative partnerships—not only in the arts, but across industries and sectors. As creative changemakers, you'll be poised to help address some of our greatest opportunities and most pressing challenges.

When you take part in Festival this week and cheer on your classmates, I hope you'll take the chance to celebrate the convergence of artists and art forms that happens here at Interlochen.

I have no doubt that your growing interdisciplinary perspective will foster visionary thinking to add color and meaning to our world.

With best wishes,