From the Archives with Byron Hanson: November 2013

Crescendo issue: November 2013

November 15, 1927 should be a day to remember: the “shot heard ‘round the world” that would eventually affect the lives of all of us. This was the date Joe Maddy sent a letter accompanied by a 20-page booklet to hundreds of music “supervisors” across the continent describing his vision that would grow to become the Interlochen we know today. One tradition tells us that a boy had climbed a ladder after the 1927 National High School Orchestra played their final concert in Dallas and implored Joe Maddy to find a place where the they could spend a whole summer making music together. It’s a poignant tale, but Joe had already written and published the same idea well before the students going to Dallas had boarded their trains! By midsummer he had incorporated the “National High School Orchestra Camp Association”, taken Giddings and a few other friends to inspect the proposed site and made a contract with Willis Pennington to lease land for the cabins that would be built to house campers.


Fortified by the success of  the national orchestras he’d recruited for Detroit and Dallas, Maddy went to work to secure the money it would take to build the Bowl and cabins. He appealed to music publishers and instrument manufacturers and anyone who would listen to his “crazy” idea. It might never have happened were they pessimistic in the face of so little time and the early rumbling of the political, social and economic storms just ahead, but Joe’s unbridled enthusiasm won out, armed with a vision that could not be shaken, and we are the beneficiaries of his confidence in what was “just an idea”.