Interlochen Center for the Arts

4000 Highway M-137 Interlochen, Michigan(USA), 49643 (view map)

8 to 19 (Coed )
Day camp, Overnight camp
0 available; 4 TBD
Art (multi)
$1,575 to $9,600 USD
Special Needs:
Yes, Mild support (Not all campers have special needs)


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  Lindsey Anderson
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About this Camp

Interlochen Center for the Arts

Interlochen Arts Camp is a world-renowned, multidisciplinary summer arts program where over 2,500 campers from many countries come to study music, visual arts, theatre, film, dance, and creative writing. During a multi-week program for grades 3-12 or a one-week instrumental institute for high school students, you'll be guided by amazing faculty and exceptional guest artists and will live, learn, and perform with like-minded peers in the beautiful setting of our 1,200-acre wooded campus between two pristine lakes.

Programs and Sessions Calendar

Choose the right programs and sessions for your child; currently 0 program available; 4 TBD.

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Rope courses|Acting (Film & TV)|Ballet|Hip hop|Jazz|Fashion design / Sewing|Makeup Artistry|Guitar|Music Recording|Piano|Vocal training / singing|Musical Theatre|Theatre Arts|Arts & Crafts|Drawing|Painting|Photo/Video|Pottery/ceramics |Animation / 3D design|Canoeing|Hiking|Swimming
Virtual program
Ages: 15 - 18
Art (multi)
Virtual Program,
Date TBDCost TBD
Acting (Film & TV)|Ballet|Hip hop|Jazz|Fashion design / Sewing|Makeup Artistry|Guitar|Music Recording|Piano|Vocal training / singing|Musical Theatre|Theatre Arts|Drawing|Animation / 3D design|Writing / journalism
Virtual program
Ages: 12 - 15
Art (multi)
Virtual Program,
Date TBDCost TBD
Acting (Film & TV)|Ballet|Hip hop|Jazz|Fashion design / Sewing|Makeup Artistry|Guitar|Music Recording|Piano|Vocal training / singing|Musical Theatre|Theatre Arts|Drawing|Animation / 3D design|Writing / journalism
Virtual program
Ages: 8 - 12
Art (multi)
Virtual Program,
Date TBDCost TBD
Ballet|Hip hop|Jazz|Makeup Artistry|Guitar|Music Recording|Piano|Vocal training / singing|Musical Theatre|Theatre Arts|Drawing|Nature/Environment|Writing / journalism

Camp Address
4000 Highway M-137, Interlochen, Michigan(USA) , United States


Interlochen Center for the Arts
Interlochen Center for the Arts
4000 Highway M-137 Interlochen, Michigan(USA), 49643 logo

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Director's Message

Katherine Drago Luellen, Executive Dean, Enrollment Management

Hello from Interlochen Center for the Arts!

This past summer, we welcomed 2,755 students from 53 states/territories, and 40 countries for an immersive arts experience. With programs for students from ages 8 to 19, Interlochen is the hub for youthful artistic energy manifesting itself through music, dance, creative writing, film, theatre, and visual arts. 

Nestled between two freshwater lakes on a glorious wooded campus, Interlochen is a place of joy and discovery. Young artists from around the world develop friendships with like-minded peers from all walks of life. These students come together from around the world united by a shared passion for the arts. For many, the experience is transformational. 

In addition to our accomplished Interlochen faculty, each summer we welcome visiting instructors from preeminent arts conservatories and universities, as well as leaders in various industries, to teach and mentor our students. Each session provides numerous performing, speaking, and exhibition opportunities in a variety of world-class venues. 

For summer 2020, music students will have the opportunity to learn, practice, and rehearse in our new state of the art Music building. We have announced new programs in all arts areas and continue to offer expanded scholarship opportunities. It is an exciting time and we hope you will consider joining us.

It has been nearly one year since I joined the Interlochen community,  and as a performer, educator, administrator, and parent, I continue to feel amazed and inspired by this community. I welcome the opportunity to get to know you better. You’ve taken the first step in your Interlochen journey by reading this letter, so, please reach out to us with any questions you may have. We are here to help you realize why Interlochen is the best destination for every young artist.

Warm regards, 

Katherine Drago Luellen

Executive Dean, Enrollment Management

[email protected] 231.276.7472

Cost & Financial Aid

Cost: $1,575 to $9,600 USD /session

Payment Options:

Deposit required with acceptance Yes


Interlochen Arts Camp alumna to appear in Miss World pageant

Interlochen Arts Camp alumna Rikkiya Brathwaite (IAC 09-11) will represent the British Virgin Islands during this 2019 Miss World pageant in London, England.

Brathwaite, an aspiring actress, has already been selected as the competition’s top sportswoman and placed second in the pageant’s talent competition. As the winner of the sports competition, Brathwaite will automatically advance to the final round of competition.

The winner of the 2019 Miss World pageant will be crowned on Dec. 14. You can watch the live stream of the ceremony for $2 or follow along on Facebook.

Break a leg, Rikkiya!


Faith, trust, and fairy dust

Each December, we remember the millions of lives that have been lost or affected by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) during AIDS Awareness Month.

We may never know how many Interlochen alumni have been affected by HIV or AIDS. We do know that dozens of alumni have lent their time and talents to the cause as advocates and researchers, all hoping to end the progression of a global pandemic.

Today, AIDS is manageable with proper medication. But in the 1980s, medical science had few answers for those diagnosed with AIDS. It was within this reality that Steve Pieters (IAC/NMC 68-69) began his battle with AIDS—a battle that he is still winning 34 years later, thanks to his faith, medical advisors, and love of musical theatre.

Pieters first encountered theatre as a boy in Andover, Mass. “I loved musicals from the time that I first saw Peter Pan with Mary Martin on TV,” he said in a recent interview with Crescendo. “My father would sit me down in front of his record player with the original cast albums of South Pacific and My Fair Lady. I just loved them. Then, I saw the production of Oklahoma! at Phillips Academy, and there was just something about it. I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”

In high school, Pieters discovered Interlochen Arts Camp. “It was an extraordinary experience,” he said. “It was the first time that I really met a bunch of other kids who were into the arts—and other boys who I sensed were a lot like me.”

Pieters excelled at Interlochen, earning leading roles in Lil’ AbnerThe Sorcerer, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and singing the baritone solos in Weber’s Mass. He was also commended by the Drama Division as an alternate for the Outstanding Drama scholarship.

After high school, Pieters continued his study of theatre at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. While living in Chicago, Pieters was invited to attend the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).

“At that time, there weren’t a lot of churches that welcomed gay and lesbian people,” he said. “The MCC was founded as a safe place for those of us who were LGBT to worship God together. I started going to church there, and I had a spiritual awakening. I felt a call to the ministry. It was one of the clearest moments I have ever had.”

Pieters enrolled in McCormick Theological Seminary, and completed his divinity studies three years later. Shortly after, he was offered a pastoral position at an MCC church in Hartford, Conn. “It was not easy being gay in Hartford at the time,” Pieters said. “There were three suicides in my 45-member congregation in my first year. There were protests outside our church by various groups who thought we shouldn’t exist. Most of the people who came to my church had a hard time in life because they were LGBT, and I tried to help them see that they were good people.”

By 1982, Pieters was physically and spiritually burned out. He left Hartford and moved to Los Angeles. There, his physical malaise became severe illness.

“I had hepatitis, mono, herpes, shingles…. I caught everything as my immune system shut down,” Pieters said. “In 1984, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma, which also gave me my diagnosis of full-blown AIDS. My doctors gave me eight months to live.”

Devastated by his diagnosis, Pieters, then the associate pastor of an MCC church in Hollywood, was invited to preach the upcoming Easter sermon. “It was one of the most valuable gifts anyone has ever given me,” Pieters said. “As I reflected on what it meant to believe in the resurrection of Christ as a person who was about to die of a very stigmatized disease, I thought, ‘If God is greater than the death of Jesus, God is greater than AIDS.’”

Pieters was also inspired by Dr. Alexandra Levine, who remains his physician to this day. “She told me, ‘You in the church have more to offer than I do in medicine,’” Pieters said. “But she also told me that there are no one-hundred-percents in medicine. If 0.001% of patients survive, why not believe it could be me?”

Bolstered by his faith and his physician, Pieters developed his own unique treatment plan through research and intuition. “I studied vitamins and nutrition, tried to feed my body as well as I could, and exercised every day,” Pieters said. “But most importantly, I enjoyed life.”

In a season of life that would have brought many grief, Pieters leaned in to joy. “I pursued laughter like it was a medicine,” he said. “I would make myself do it two to three times per day—big, hearty belly laughs—just like you would take a medication. I would watch I Love LucyM*A*S*HGolden GirlsCheers… anything that made me laugh. Finding joy in the face of all the horror that I was experiencing was a gift of grace.”

Pieters also found joy in his lifelong love of musical theatre, which he also treated as part of his therapy. “I would drive around the freeways of Los Angeles singing along with original cast albums and Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall,” he said. “It filled my heart with joy that I could still sing. I also went to the theatre to see inspiring plays, musicals, and operas. All that gave me a sense of life.”

Pieters’ treatment program worked: He outlived his eight-month diagnosis. In 1985, Dr. Levine invited Pieters to take part in a drug trial that she was leading, the now-infamous suramin trial. Pieters became Patient One.

“Within six months, both of my cancers were in complete remission,” Pieters said. The other 89 participants were not as fortunate: The drug’s toxicity killed 20% of the patients, and most of the remainder died of AIDS-related illnesses within two years. Pieters is one of only two surviving participants.

Although Pieters survived, it was a very near miss. “Suramin blew out my adrenal glands, and I was so close to death that they brought me into the hospital,” Pieters said. “I went blind, lost my hair, was paralyzed on one side of my body, and suffered severe neuromuscular damage. Although it put me into remission, the drug was a complete disaster.”

By March of 1986, Pieters was starting to heal from the effects of suramin, and since the trial, both cancers have been in remission. With his health recovering, Pieters accepted a position as field director of the MCC’s AIDS ministry. Through the position, Pieters traveled around the world to share messages of awareness, healing, and hope with religious and secular audiences on stage, screen, and air.

In 1993, Pieters was one of 12 religious leaders invited to attend a prayer breakfast at the White House under the Clinton administration. “Perhaps because I was the only person with AIDS, they sat me right next to President Clinton,” Pieters recalled. “It was an extraordinary honor to speak truth to power, quite literally, and share with the president the importance of speaking out on HIV issues.”

In another memorable moment, Pieters was asked to introduce Coretta Scott King at a conference on AIDS in the African-American community. “It was an extraordinary honor to write and deliver an introduction to a woman who knew what it was like to live with the constant threat of death, much like those of us who are living and working with AIDS,” he said. “After I introduced her, she gave me a great big hug and held me tight for what seemed like a minute. It was so significant for the audience to see the African-American community embracing the white gay community just as AIDS was hitting the African-American community.”

Pieters has also put his Interlochen training to work on the speaking circuit. His signature tap dance—a sign of his defiance of the disease, first given from the pulpit on that fateful Easter Sunday—has made appearances at numerous other engagements, including one of actress Elizabeth Taylor’s high-profile AIDS fundraisers. “I got up, told them my story, and then, in front of Gene Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and about 250 major celebrities, I shuffled off to Buffalo,” Pieters quipped.

Indeed, 34 years after his diagnosis, Pieters is still dancing. He continues to travel and speak, although the frequency has slowed somewhat. He’s also still singing. For more than 25 years, he’s been a proud member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. “l love it: It’s an incredible community and a great arts organization,” he said. “I still get such a kick out of performing: watching the curtain come up, producing music with 250 other men, and enjoying the feeling of making harmony. Conveying the beauty of life through music is an extraordinary gift.”

In early October, Pieters donated several of his works, including his 1991 book “I’m Still Dancing,” several articles, and a recording of his interview with Tammy Faye Bakker on the PTL Club to the Smithsonian Institution. The highlight of the collection is a fairy wand that Pieters has carried with him on every speaking tour.

“In Peter Pan, we learn that fairies die when people don’t believe in them,” Pieters said. “In the stage adaptation, Peter Pan turns to the audience and says, ‘Tinkerbell is dying because people don’t believe in fairies. If you believe in fairies, clap your hands.’ And for decades, people have applauded like crazy to bring Tinkerbell back to life. At a time when so many of us who were called 'fairies' were dying, it was important for us to believe in ourselves enough to be present for one another when our lives were at stake. That was symbolized by the fairy wand.”

Ultimately, Pieters’ message, and his very life itself, are full of hope for those living with HIV and AIDS. “I hope and pray that nobody else is infected with AIDS,” Pieters said. “If you are, know that a full, long life is still possible with proper treatment.”

And perhaps, a touch of fairy dust.


Summers, smiles, and separation with Sarah Ruhl

In their Brooklyn home, playwright and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl (IAC/NMC 87-88, 90) accompanies her children on piano as they practice violin.

Piano was a skill Ruhl picked up during her childhood in Chicago. In fact, it was her former piano teacher Barbara Rubenstein who first told her about Interlochen.

“Honestly, I was not a very good pianist,” Ruhl said with a laugh. “I could never have competed at the level of an Interlochen music major, but I loved piano...I loved all the arts.”

Ruhl’s predisposition as a dilettante led her to study a wide variety of majors during her summers at Interlochen: visual arts, drama, piano, chorus, and operetta. Ruhl would have studied creative writing, too, but it wasn’t offered during her time at Camp. That, fortunately for Ruhl’s eldest child Anna, is no longer the case.

“[Anna] was seduced by this beautiful building,” Ruhl said. “When she saw [The Writing House] she said, ‘I'm going there! I'm gonna write all day.’”

And so she did. Ruhl’s daughter spent her summer studying creative writing at Interlochen. For Ruhl, returning to Interlochen to drop off her daughter was surreal.

“I had to go to the Melody Freeze, and I had to just walk along the water,” Ruhl said. “I found my old cabin. Texted my own friends with what cabin Anna was in.”

Ruhl begins to hum the Interlochen Theme.

“I dreamed of Interlochen for a long time after,” Ruhl said. “I went three summers, but I would dream about it all the time.”

“Practicing by myself in the woods. To me, that's heaven. And you hear the sounds of other people working around you, so you don't feel lonely. You feel at home in your solitude, and that is such a gift to give to a young person, a young artist,” Ruhl said.

Prior to Interlochen, Ruhl was lucky enough to have a family and community that supported the arts, but even so, she adds, “It wasn't until I went to Interlochen that I actually felt surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals who basically were content to eat, play music in the woods, talk about art, and go to sleep. That, to me, it was a social bath. It was like pressing a reset button. It was really transformative.”

Though Ruhl is known as a playwright, she didn’t attempt the genre until her junior year at Brown University. At the time, Ruhl had aspirations to be a poet, but faculty member and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel saw her potential elsewhere.

Eventually, Ruhl came around to the idea, and would go on to complete her Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from Brown University in 2001. Vogel’s intuitions were right, as it wasn’t long before Ruhl’s work began to get noticed. In 2003, Ruhl was awarded the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award and the Whiting Writers’ Award. Then, over the course of the next decade, Ruhl would go on to receive two Pulitzer Prize in Drama nominations (2005 and 2010), be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (Class of 2006), and win the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award in 2008.

Ruhl’s plays have been produced at Lincoln Center Theater, Goodman Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Second Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cornerstone Theater, The Wilma Theater, Madison Repertory Theatre, and the Piven Theatre, just to name a few.

Over the years, Ruhl’s work has been described in a number of colorful ways. Much to Ruhl’s chagrin, it isn’t uncommon to find the words “quirky” or “whimsical” hastily applied to her shows. These oversimplifications are to be expected. Ruhl’s writing pairs the mundane with the magical; crossing and transcending both genre and style within single sentences.

In Ruhl’s play Dead Man’s Cell Phone, an unanswered cell phone leads to the discovery that the owner of the phone has died while sitting at his cafe table. What follows is a series of increasingly bizarre and somewhat metaphysical events as the protagonist uses the dead man’s phone to learn more about his life.

The dialogue is quick, heightened, yet naturalistic. Ruhl’s stage directions are notoriously provocative and challenging. In one scene, Jean, the protagonist, meets up with the dead man’s brother, Dwight:

Dwight exits.
Jean sits alone.
She looks small and tired.
An Edward Hopper painting, for 5 seconds.
Dwight re-enters with some caramel popcorn.

In the play’s notes for the director and designers, Ruhl writes, “Transitions are fluid. Space is fluid. There is not a lot of stuff on the stage. Enjoy yourself.”

“Enjoy yourself” seems to be a fitting mantra for Ruhl’s oeuvre. Whether it’s her play Eurydice, a retelling of the myth of Orpheus from the point of view of his wife Eurydice, or her exploration of Victorian medical treatments in In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, Ruhl isn’t afraid to interject a sense of levity into serious subject matter.

“When I started out writing, I thought I had to write history plays because then people could speak in a heightened, theatrical way,” Ruhl said. “So, my first play was a play called Passion Play, and it started out in the 1600s—1675, and jumped around. And then I realized as I kept writing that I could write contemporary plays and still have people talk the way I wanted them to talk.”

As a professor at the Yale School of Drama, these insights often make their way into Ruhl’s classroom. Those preconceived notions didn’t nourish her art—so Ruhl gave them up.

“What I tell students is to be like whales,” Ruhl said. “Whales have these sieves that automatically separate the krill. They just open their mouths wide and they swallow water, and some krill goes in and they sift out the rest. It's like you have to be slow, moving through the water, swallowing the water, taking in the krill, and filtering out what doesn't serve you.”

Back in their Brooklyn home, however, beyond her accompaniment at the piano, Ruhl’s tries to keep a supportive but hands-off approach when dealing with her children’s artistic endeavors.

“Anna’s absolutely in charge of her own process. She knows that,” Ruhl said. “I think it was profound, too, dropping her at Interlochen, because it was her first sleep-away camp. I remember standing at that little gazebo in Intermediate Girls. I was just standing there after saying goodbye.”

Ruhl recalls her own summers at Interlochen, the “bunch of misfits” in her cabin who formed their own interim family while away from their parents. How important that was for her then, and how important it is for her now knowing that Anna is doing the same at Camp.

“It's hard to separate from your parents, especially for these sensitive souls who run around making art,” Ruhl said. “It was interesting that a place, which had been a holding place for my own separation then, is now a holding place for my daughter.”


Camp faculty profile: Demondrae Thurman

Dr. Demondrae Thurman may have left behind his childhood dream of being an electrical engineer, but his problem-solving mindset has transferred seamlessly to his career as a musician.

“I talk to all of my students about understanding their limitations,” Thurman said. “Our limitations don’t go away, but we can learn how to manage them.”

If his resume is any indication, Thurman is an expert at limitation management. Thurman has been one of the world’s leading euphonium soloists for two decades, and has two solo albums to his credit. He’s the go-to euphonium specialist for orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, and Philadelphia Orchestra, and performs with chamber ensembles such as the Sotto Voce Quartet and the internationally acclaimed Brass Band of Battle Creek.

In 2018, Thurman joined the faculty of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he teaches euphonium and chamber music. For the past several summers, he has brought his talents as a pedagoge to Interlochen Arts Camp, where he serves as a guest artist at the Interlochen Trombone, Tuba, and Euphonium Institute.

Read on as Dr. Thurman shares his experiences as a young euphonium player and his advice on choosing an instrument, defining your musical identity, and making the best use of your high school years.

How did you start playing the euphonium?
I started out in the 7th grade in my school band. That was my first formal music instruction, although I was always interested in music. It took awhile for me to pick an instrument. I wanted to be a drummer, but my mom wouldn’t allow it, since we lived in a three-bedroom apartment. My band director brought out all the instruments for me to try. I didn’t like any of them except for the euphonium. I was really drawn to the sound of it.

I began my career in the arts in a very humble way. I started my life wanting to be an electrical engineer, which was my goal until my senior year of high school. During that year, I heard “Pictures At An Exhibition” for the first time and fell in love with music and knew I wanted to be involved in it. Doing engineering and music at the same time was not possible, so I decided to focus on music. I kept myself ignorant of the challenges of music on purpose so I didn’t create limitations for myself based on what I was told. I just tried to put myself in the best positions to work with the best teachers and hear the best performances. The best of the best come through Interlochen, which is why I came here to teach.

Why is teaching important to you? What do you find rewarding in working with young artists?
My reward comes from seeing my students succeed in their art. That doesn’t just mean getting jobs or winning competitions, but also falling in love with music. Music is the most important thing.

What are some pieces of advice you give to all your students?
I always talk about being vulnerable. The younger generation is worried about being judged. You have to learn to be vulnerable to the point that judgment doesn’t keep you from progressing and continuing in your love for music. I also talk to my students about being smart: understanding your limitations and strengths. It’s important to strengthen your strengths and make your limitations less visible. Our limitations don’t go away, but we can learn how to manage them.

You play on a Miraphone 5050 Ambassador Edition euphonium and a Demondrae model mouthpiece—both of which were designed for you. What’s the key to finding the right instrument for you?
I had this instrument [the Miraphone 5050 Ambassador Edition] designed in an effort to make a better machine than what was available. I had played a lot of great instruments, but all of them had issues that I thought should be fixable. I wanted specific things to be improved, and Miraphone was able to do those things in this model. I feel what I play is the best on the market, but it’s not the best for everyone. Every player is different. You have to get an instrument that fits you physically—one that is ergonomically satisfying when you hold it. All instruments have a sound that is unique to them, so try to find one with a sound that identifies with what you think a sound should be. Most importantly, pick an instrument that doesn’t detract from your strengths.

What are some things that young musicians can do now to help their future career?
Study piano, even at the most elementary level. Get familiar with keyboard. It took me a long time for me to grasp the piano. Knowledge of the keyboard makes understanding music theory, scales, and other building blocks of music much easier.

It’s also helpful to identify yourself with musicians; not necessarily ones on your instrument, but people who make music in a way that satisfies you. Reach out beyond the instrument you play. You can be inspired by conductors, clarinetists, bassoonists—anybody. It helps you block out what could be noise otherwise. Find a lane you like and go for it.


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