Interlochen Arts Academy launches partnership with New York Philharmonic

  • Interlochen Arts Academy students will perform at the Lincoln Center as part of the 2017 partnership with the New York Philharmonic.

The collaboration, set for January 2017, will culminate with a student chamber concert at the Lincoln Center.

The Interlochen Arts Academy and New York Philharmonic are pleased to announce a partnership that will launch in January. Four New York Philharmonic musicians, all Interlochen alumni, will travel to the school’s Michigan campus for two intensive weeks of educational activities, and select students will travel to New York to attend a Philharmonic rehearsal and concert, and give a chamber concert at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse (Jan. 28). Alongside works by 20th-century masters Poulenc and Shostakovich, the students’ program will showcase the music of Nico Muhly, TJ Cole, and other young American composers with links to Interlochen. Interlochen Arts Academy, which was also featured on the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL, is the only high school outside New York City to work with the New York Philharmonic.

Each an Interlochen alumnus, the New York Philharmonic musicians participating in the collaboration are violinist Kuan Cheng Lu, bassoonist Roger Nye, horn player R. Allen Spanjer, and trumpet player Ethan Bensdorf. Bensdorf explains:

“Interlochen changed my life. Summers there were filled with incredible musical growth and long-lasting friendships; it was a safe place for creativity to thrive. My journey as a musician really began there, and I am excited to go back and hopefully help encourage and inspire others at the beginning of their own creative transformations.”

On Jan. 17–20, the four Philharmonic musicians will join Interlochen Arts Academy music students for lessons, master classes, mock auditions, rehearsals, and a chamber concert. The following week, on Jan. 23–28, 19 select students will travel to New York to attend a New York Philharmonic rehearsal and concert, take part in further cultural activities, and give a chamber performance at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.

Like the Arts Academy Orchestra’s NY PHIL BIENNIAL concert, the chamber program will focus primarily on young American composers, many of whom enjoy close Interlochen connections. Nico Muhly (b.1981)—“one of the most celebrated and sought-after classical composers of the last decade” (The Guardian)—spent a week collaborating with Interlochen students on their New York premiere performance of his So Far So Good at the NY PHIL BIENNIAL in June 2016. Recent Interlochen alumna TJ Cole (b.1993) has received commissions from the Baltimore and Cincinnati symphonies, the Louisville Orchestra, and Time for Three. Steven Snowden (b.1981) is the winner of the 2016 American Composers Forum National Composition Contest and co-founder/director of the Fast Forward Austin Music Festival. The music of Interlochen composition faculty member and MSU Honors Composition Award-winner Thomas Childs (b.1977) has been performed by ensembles including eighth blackbird, Tala Rasa Percussion, and Alia Musica. Longtime Interlochen Arts Academy attendee and Arts Camp and Camp faculty alumnus Jim Stephenson (b.1969) is a former trumpeter of the Naples Philharmonic, whose current commissions include works for the Chicago and St. Louis symphonies. Rounding out the Lincoln Center program are two 20th-century masterworks for chamber ensemble: Poulenc’s Sextet for piano and winds and the Theme and Variations from Shostakovich’s Second String Quartet.

Success at the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL

The Interlochen Arts Academy triumphed this past June at the second NY PHIL BIENNIAL, in which the Philharmonic and Interlochen Center for the Arts presented the Arts Academy Orchestra—the only high school orchestra invited to participate—in a program of world and New York premieres by young American composers led by guest conductor Christopher Rountree. Under the headline “Interlochen Rises to the Occasion,” the New York Times reported:

“All these composers share a familiarity and ease with the orchestra and a flair for instrumentation. They put the young players through their paces, and the Interlochen students responded brilliantly to Mr. Rountree’s lead.”

The New Yorker’s Alex Ross observed: “I would happily have stayed in the world of this music for twice as long, not least because of the avid commitment of the Interlochen students.” As Agence France-Presse noted, the Academy succeeded in “bringing teenagers’ fresh-eyed enthusiasm to contemporary music.”

About Interlochen Center for the Arts

The nonprofit Interlochen Center for the Arts is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the only organization in the world that brings together a 2,500-student summer camp program; a 500-student fine arts boarding high school; opportunities for hundreds of adults to engage in fulfilling artistic and creative programs; two 24-hour listener-supported public radio services (classical music and news); more than 600 arts presentations annually by students, faculty and world-renowned guest artists; and a global alumni base spanning eight decades, including leaders in the arts and all other endeavors. For information, visit Interlochen online at

About the New York Philharmonic

The New York Philharmonic connects with up to 50 million music lovers annually through performances, education, broadcasts, and the Digital Archives. The 2016–17 season marks the Orchestra’s 175th anniversary and Music Director Alan Gilbert’s farewell season. The Philharmonic has always championed contemporary music, with current projects including the NY PHIL BIENNIAL. The annual free citywide Concerts in the Parks, presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, are complemented with Philharmonic Free Fridays and education programs, including the famed Young People’s Concerts and the New York Philharmonic Global Academy, collaborations with partners worldwide to train pre-professional orchestral musicians, often alongside performance residencies. America’s oldest symphony orchestra has appeared in 432 cities in 63 countries and long been a media pioneer, today sharing live performances through downloads and online. Alan Gilbert became Music Director in 2009 — succeeding titans including Bernstein, Toscanini, and Mahler.