A season of joy, music, and making up for lost time

Emerging after the challenging and isolating years of COVID-19, this summer young musicians at Interlochen Arts Camp will find mentorship, friendship, and opportunity.

Girls hugging with violins
Eric Stomberg and Steven Davis

L-R: Eric Stomberg, Steven Davis

Many young musicians find themselves eager to make up for lost time. During the last two years, there was a substantial decrease in local school music programs - some experts say up to 20%, and countless performances and group practice sessions were canceled.

To provide advice and insights on pursuing music, despite setbacks caused by the pandemic, we spoke with two experts who have mentored young Interlochen artists for many years: Eric Stomberg, Director of Music at Interlochen Arts Camp and Professor of Bassoon at the University of Kansas—and Steven Davis, Director of Bands at Interlochen Arts Camp, and the Rose Ann Carr Millsap Missouri Distinguished Professor of Music and Conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

How would you encourage young musicians who may have missed out on opportunities during the pandemic?

Eric Stomberg (ES) - While many young musicians feel they are not ready for the rigors of Interlochen Arts Camp, especially if they have missed two or three years of music experiences, our faculty meet students where they are on their own artistic path. Interlochen’s nurturing and creative environment often allows students to learn more at Interlochen during the summer than they would in six months to a year.

Steven Davis (SD) - The word ensemble means together. We are better musicians when we join together, practice, and perform. Despite the lack of opportunities during the pandemic, we can look forward with optimism and perseverance. 

How would a summer at Interlochen help young musicians get back on track? 

SD - At Arts Camp, students experience a time of riveting inspiration. They have the space to dedicate their entire day to practicing and performing with experienced faculty and talented peers. Distractions are eliminated, and the inspiration that happens in between the lakes and amongst the pines is life changing for our young campers. Practicing for several more weeks will help a young musician make up for lost time, but attending Interlochen will push them beyond what they thought possible.

ES - We provide a holistic musical approach for the ensemble musician. Think of it like a stool: one leg is large ensembles, another private lessons, and another is small ensembles. All of these together are taught by experienced faculty who are dedicated to not only seeing students grow as young musicians, but also as individuals. We are committed to a high level of teaching that will encourage and push our students to reach their full potential.

What unique experiences do young musicians have at Interlochen Arts Camp? 

ES - When students get to Camp, they find their people through their unified passion for music and the arts. Students leave Interlochen Arts Camp as stronger advocates for music and the arts, while bringing back creative and artistic tools to improve their local music programs and their community.

SD - As young campers learn more with their instrument of choice, they also mature and expand their horizons. The growth that happens in a short time is exponential. However, the needle is a thread well balanced between fun and rigor. Students have an intense daily education, but will participate in the fun activities of summer camp. It’s an experience they won’t get anywhere else. 

Many programs have been canceled not only because of the pandemic, but because of global unrest. How does Interlochen offer similar experiences to international camp programs?

ES - When you look at the front of Kresge Auditorium, we have flags representing each home country of the students that attend Camp. We also engage faculty from around the globe who create a diverse experience and education for our students. The art of creating and performing  music is the common denominator that brings us together as musicians. 

SD - Interlochen is an international experience, despite its northern Michigan location. Interlochen Arts Camp is a lens into different cultures where young people are exposed to thoughts, traditions, and customs different from their own. They make great friendships and learn from each other, which enriches their education and helps them grow within their community.

Do you still hear from the students you have taught at Arts Camp? 

SD - Recently, I received an email from a 2016 Interlochen Arts Camp alumnus who is graduating college. He said Interlochen was the most inspirational time of his life and his time here influenced his life’s path. Despite graduating with a chemical engineering degree, his music education continues to inspire and shape him. Interlochen is not just for students bound for conservatory. What you learn here translates to what you do for the rest of your life. These stories from our Camp alumni are shared with me regularly, and it makes my work as an educator more meaningful.

ES - We are so fortunate to hear how the time at camp positively altered the artistic trajectory of so many students throughout the years. Students are also excited to return to camp in future summers and many campers join us at our outstanding Arts Academy year round. Interlochen is an experience to cherish for a lifetime. 

View a list of Camp music faculty, and listen to the Camp 2022 repertoire on Spotify.

Limited space remains for Interlochen Arts Camp 2022. Learn more about how to apply to Interlochen Arts Camp, and explore Camp Music Programs. Contact the Office of Admission at 231.276.7472 or admission@interlochen.org with questions.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)