From Starving Artist to Interlochen Donor

Crescendo issue: February 2014
As a professional musician, Laura Carmichael (IAC 84-85, IAA 85-86) had her share of “starving artist” years.

Grateful to have those days behind her, she now makes it a priority to give to organizations that are important to her. What started as a small contribution to Interlochen in 2005 has developed into an annual tradition, one that is meaningful not only to Laura but also to Interlochen and the young artists who benefit from her generosity. Through her support of Interlochen, Laura acknowledges not only the role that Interlochen played in her own life but also the value that she places on the arts in general. And through her work with the newly formed alumni fundraising committee, Laura hopes to inspire other alumni to join her in giving back to Interlochen--whether in big or small ways.

“Making donations has just become part of my value system,” Laura said, speaking of her commitment to charitable giving. “Supporting Interlochen is an effective and inspiring way to support the arts for the future. Personally, I notice that my modest donation of both time and money sets my intention in a clear direction, and marks what is important to me in a larger sense.”

Last fall, the Office of Advancement launched the alumni annual fund committee--a group of Academy and Camp alumni who have set an example in their commitment to giving and who are now reaching out, via phone and email, to encourage their fellow alumni to support Interlochen’s annual fund.

“Maybe it sounds lofty, but I see it as a way to be part of the cycle of generations and hopes for the betterment of humanity,” Laura said of her involvement with alumni fundraising efforts. ”To commit to be part of a solution is vital, and the arts are vital to society. If I didn't believe art made change possible, I'd be doing something else.”  

Laura knows the power of the arts, and the power of Interlochen, first hand. As a high school musician, Laura found her way from Texas to Interlochen Arts Camp through the encouragement of her clarinet teacher. Once she was at Camp, she lobbied her parents to let her attend the Academy. They agreed to let her stay for her senior year which, Laura said, changed her life.  

“At the time Interlochen helped me not only work hard and learn a lot about music, but introduced me to more sophisticated political ideas, critical thinking in literature, writing, and ecology,” Laura said. “I started to experience the interconnectedness of many things. I learned to appreciate differences among people and feel at home with myself.”

The broad exposure Laura received at Interlochen has, no doubt, informed her career as a musician. Over the last 25 years, she has led a rich life filled with clarinet and classical music, performing as well as teaching and giving lectures at universities all over the world. After moving to Amsterdam in 1999, she expanded her focus to include bass clarinet and contemporary music; she performs with major orchestras and smaller ensembles across Europe, collaborates with composers, and explores the relationship between technology and music. Last year she released a solo CD titled "Trace" on Karnatic Lab Records.

Giving back to Interlochen has been an easy decision for Laura. “I believe that young people from all kinds of backgrounds ought to have the opportunity to develop themselves, with the hope that they then give to society,” she explained. “Culture and talent don’t depend on class, but developing talent certainly does depend on financial resources and a ‘space’ in which to work. So doing my part to help keep Interlochen affordable, especially by supporting scholarship funds, is a no-brainer.”  

With Laura’s support, along with the support of many other alumni just like her, Interlochen continues to inspire and empower the young artists who will shape the future of the arts.