NY Phil Biennial and Interlochen: How the ‘Young Americans’ theme came to life

An exciting collaboration will see the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra traveling to New York City this June to be a part of New York Philharmonic’s Biennial concert program.

Thanks to the teamwork of Interlochen President Jeffrey Kimpton and New York Philharmonic Executive Director Matthew VanBesien—himself an alumnus of Interlochen Arts Camp—the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will perform a concert titled “Young Americans,” featuring a program of works created by the next generation of American composers, to be held in the landmark David Geffen Hall on June 5.

During a conversation about the NY Phil Biennial program, Christopher Gruits, executive director of Interlochen Presents, said that this trip represents a milestone for both institutions—and a rare opportunity for the Interlochen students.

“We’re the only ensemble at this age level that has been invited to participate,” Gruits said. “And we really wanted to participate in this because it is a great opportunity for the kids. It’s a great showcase for Interlochen in New York.”

Gruits, who created the Young Americans program for the Biennial and commissioned the works, worked to include a variety of performances for the event. Thanks to his efforts, the works performed by the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will include world premieres by notable composers Gabriel Kahane and Hannah Lash, plus New York premieres by Jennifer Higdon and Nico Muhly. A world-premiere work by Interlochen Arts Academy alumna Ashley Fure also will be featured. Acclaimed Los Angeles conductor Christopher Rountree will lead the orchestra, and an original dance by renowned New York choreographer Christopher Williams will be presented along with Muhly’s composition.

“I am so pleased that the New York Philharmonic is partnering with Interlochen Center for the Arts to bring the Arts Academy Orchestra to New York to perform on the NY Phil Biennial this spring,” said VanBesien. “It is particularly fitting that the program will feature new works by young American composers, reflecting the ways in which Interlochen is helping to foster hope and excitement around the future of classical music. As someone who was fortunate enough to attend Interlochen, I know how truly inspiring the environment is.”

Gruits sees the New York event as an ideal showcase for such artists. He said the emphasis on younger and emerging musical talent is not only important, but also what Interlochen is all about. This led to the creation of the theme for the event, Young Americans.

“Interlochen is really this incubator for young artists in the United States,” he said. “And so we began thinking: we are working with these composers and combining that with the fact that this is a youth orchestra. So we came up with this concept of a Young Americans program. The emphasis will showcase what’s happening in younger American music and art today.”

With such vibrant young talent involved, along with the collaboration and co-presentation of this event, Gruits sees the NY Phil Biennial as an ideal showcase for not just new emerging talent, but for Interlochen Center for the Arts, as well.

“It’s a great indicator as to the health of Interlochen, and the stature of interlochen nationally, that we’re partnering with one of the world’s most foremost orchestras; that they’ve invited our youth orchestra to perform at Lincoln Center,” Gruits said. “I think it speaks to the quality of what Interlochen does. This isn’t just any average youth orchestra. They’re a really spectacular, high-quality youth orchestra coming from a high-quality arts institution, and this collaboration with the New York Philharmonic highlights that level of quality. We’re very proud of what all our young artists have accomplished.”

The Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra will perform at the New York Philharmonic's 2016 NY Phil Biennial on June 5, 2016. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to the New York Philharmonic's website.