Interlochen at Fischoff

Crescendo issue: June 2014
The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association sponsors the nation's largest chamber music competition.

Founded in 1973 in South Bend, Indiana, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition has grown to become the largest chamber music competition in the world, and one of the most prestigious classical music prizes attainable today. The 2014 Fischoff Competition was held from May 9 - 11 on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and was attended by some of the nation's foremost musicians, including two groups from Interlochen Arts Academy.

"The Fischoff is more than just a competition," says Interlochen's instructor of horn and chamber music, Gustavo Camacho. "It is also a great educational experience. The attending students had a two hour masterclass with Valerie Coleman, who is the flute player with leading professional wind quintet Imani Winds. The students were also able to meet the junior division judges and the senior division judges, which included such prestigious names as Gail Williams (horn faculty at Northwestern University, and former associate principal horn of the Chicago Symphony), Marie Speziale (former trumpet faculty at Rice University and associate principal trumpet with Cincinnati Symphony), Michael Tree (violin faculty at The Juilliard School), and Frank Kowalsky (former clarinet faculty at Interlochen Arts Academy for ten years, and faculty at Florida State University for 30 years). Our students also had the opportunity to listen to the senior division finals and meet with those competitors after their performances."

"There were 61 group applicants from around the country, and only 24 were selected as quarterfinalists," Camacho continued. "Of those 24, only five were wind groups, which included our two groups. Our brass quintet was the only brass group to advance to the quarterfinals, and the woodwind quintet was the only wind quintet to advance to the quarterfinals."

The grand prize-winning group in the senior division (both the string division winner, and the grand prize winner) included an Interlochen Academy alumnus; cellist Jeremiah Shaw studied with Cris Campbell 16 years ago (Arts Academy class of 1998), and attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and The Juilliard School. His group, the Telegraph Quartet, is based out of San Francisco. 

Upon the completion of the competition, the two groups of current Interlochen students were able to meet with The Telegraph Quartet and the other senior division groups. The members of the quartet shared important information that the Academy students will no doubt use in their musical lives ahead.

"The Fischoff Competition has been around for more than 40 years and has become arguably the most prestigious chamber music competition in the world," concluded Camacho. "Interlochen has a great tradition of having groups advance to the live rounds, and this year continued that proud tradition. This was a great experience for our students, and one they will remember for the rest of their lives!"