From the history of holiday ballets to a high-profile guest, Byron Hanson explores some of the notable events from past Decembers at Interlochen.
Originally published December 13, 2010.
December 1, 1963 - Taking advantage of the new Jessie V. Stone Building, the Academy choir and orchestra began the tradition of holiday extravaganzas, which continue to attract audiences in this festive month. A year later, the dance department joined the effort. With the addition of Corson Auditorium, we had a proper venue for multiple large-scale performances and a new tradition of ballet concerts soon evolved around the alternating cyle of "The Nutcracker," "The Sleeping Beauty" and "Coppelia." This pattern continues to be present with this month's seasonal performance of "The Sleeping Beauty."
December 13, 1967 - The Academy Band, led by Don Jaeger, performed at the 21st annual Midwest National Band Clinic. With a repertoire ranging from the Richard Strauss Serenade, Op. 7 of 1881 to the brand-new "Designs, Images, and Textures" by Leslie Bassett, the band served notice that the six-year-old Academy was making strides beyond the imagination of the thousands gathered in Chicago for this popular gathering of musicians and educators. Academy bands returned to the Midwest Clinic in 1981 and 1996, and our orchestra, jazz and percussion ensembles have also appeared on multiple occasions.
December 11-13, 2009 - The theatre division enjoyed stealing the holiday spotlight when composer and Academy parent Alan Menken made a surprise visit to watch the Academy production of his 1994 musical, A Christmas Carol, based on the Dickens classic. Menken's attendance at the performance and subsequent interactions and words of encouragement with students made for a merry time indeed.