President Trey Devey
Every day it seems we wake up to a new reality. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a profound sense of disequilibrium, unmooring us from much of what instills comfort and stability in our lives, even our daily routines. And yet, in the face of such uncertainty, I have never been more sure of the unbreakable bonds formed here at Interlochen, and the vital role of the arts and arts education in our world today.
Moments after we announced that Interlochen Arts Academy would begin spring break a week early, our faculty, staff, and volunteers rallied together to reunite our students with their loved ones around the world. I witnessed innumerable acts of kindness and love, including faculty who orchestrated last-minute small performances for their students, and others who opened their homes to students whose travel was delayed.
Then, in true Interlochen spirit, our students, faculty, and alumni responded to our call to bring comfort and hope to our community and beyond through the universal language of the arts. Alumni such as Josh Groban (IAC 97-98) stepped forward to share art, performances, and mini-lessons online as part of #InterlochenInterludes. Other alumni reached out with ideas for bringing our community together, such as Jonathan Perkins (IAA 93-95), who will host a virtual coffeehouse with Contemporary Music Chair Courtney Kaiser-Sandler and other fellow alumni and Academy students on April 11. Through an explosion of online performances, classes, exhibitions, and events, our alumni are among the thousands of artists and arts organizations who are giving us the gift of human connection precisely as social distancing pulls us apart.
This pandemic has been likened to a war. And just as artists stepped up to comfort and inspire soldiers and civilians in other devastating periods of fear, division, and conflict, today they offer us a much-needed balm and reprieve. Around the world, artists are reminding us that we will get through the current crisis with our values intact, affirmed by the beauty and humanity we’ve experienced together.
Many of our alumni have also volunteered to serve as virtual guests in Academy classes, which will resume online on Monday, April 6. (If you’d like to volunteer, please email email@example.com.) Building on Canvas, the online learning system we adopted in the fall, our faculty pivoted to virtual instruction and began collaborating with students online soon after they left campus. We may instinctively resist virtual delivery for arts training, but undoubtedly it will enable us to serve our students more deeply, and facilitate our ability to provide an Interlochen education to even more students.
As our faculty discover and initiate new ways of teaching, they are modeling the creative problem solving that we foster here at Interlochen. To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies the world’s urgent need for leaders across industries who think critically, creatively, and collaboratively—qualities that are hallmarks of an Interlochen education.
If you haven’t already, I hope you will take part in #InterlochenInterludes, and help us bring our Interlochen magic to the world. Remember the motto displayed on the back of Kresge Auditorium: “Dedicated to the promotion of world friendship through the universal language of the arts.” It has always been a core value at Interlochen. Today, these words are more powerful and potent than ever.
I hope that you and your loved ones are safe during this difficult time, and that the beautiful art and music shared by our community offer you inspiration and comfort.