An interview with the Provost

Camille Colatosti will begin her tenure as Provost of Interlochen Center for the Arts in July 2018. This newly created position will oversee a holistic view of the student experience at Interlochen, including: enrollment, artistic and academic programming and services and student life.

Colatosti joins Interlochen after serving as the founding Dean of The Berklee College of Music Graduate Studies program. Beyond her work at Berklee, Colatosti has published numerous articles on education, women's issues and other social topics. She is also the author of the books “To Be an Artist: Musicians, Visual Artists, Writers, and Dancers Speak” and “Stopping Sexual Harassment.”

We sat down with Colatosti to learn more about her life, her work and the important role that the arts play in her life.

Interlochen: What first drew you to Interlochen?

Colatosti: Having spent some summers in the area I was familiar with Interlochen, and I have, of course, attended concerts here, too. It was always an institution for which I had a great deal of respect. I’m excited to be a part of it now.

Interlochen: Can you describe your background and interest in the arts?

Colatosti: I've always been an art lover. I have studied music since I was a child. I took lessons in piano and then guitar, and I still play for fun. Also I write poetry. I've written it since I was a teenager and I continue to do so today.

Interlochen: You speak both English and Spanish. How has being bilingual informed your work?

Colatosti: At Berklee, I was instrumental in helping open a campus in Spain. That experience encouraged me to better my own understanding of the language and the culture. I'll say that language and culture are so closely tied together. Having knowledge of different languages is very helpful in understanding culture. It's also possible to understand,enjoy and participate without really strong language skills, but having those skills does make it easier. There's a certain way in which art is an international language. People can communicate through music, through performance, through dance, which is really nice and it transcends so many other aspects.

Interlochen: Do you have a motto for your life?

Colatosti: Life is led by those who put in their best. It’s really important for me to be engaged in everything, from all the tasks that I have to do, to my work and everything that I do for fun. Being connected in everything is a big part of my life philosophy.

Interlochen: What is your greatest accomplishment, personal or professional?

Colatosti: That's a great question. There are a number of things that I've done in my work of which I am really proud. A lot of those things have been team efforts. One accomplishment of which I am quite proud is helping Berklee build an international campus in Spain. This required learning not only a new culture, but also a new set of rules and standards. It was an incredible experience to work with the strong team of people who are leading that campus now. Another of the biggest challenges that I faced in my professional life was finishing my dissertation at the University of Michigan. That was very intensive, and very satisfying, and it was a big challenge.

Also on a personal level, I lost my father four years ago, and figuring out how to recover from that loss was very challenging. It required me really to engage in quite a bit of self-reflection to figure out how to be in the world without parents. It was a big change and, of course, I continue to miss my father everyday

Interlochen: What is your favorite piece of music?

Colatosti: My absolute favorite piece is Joni Mitchell's "Blue." I grew up listening to it. I love every word of it; I know every note. It was one of the first full songs that I learned to play on the guitar. Another would be “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. I grew up listening to my father sing that. This was his absolute favorite song, and he would sing that often in the summer, especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Music is just so powerful in terms of how it can resonate with memories and feelings. So, those are two pieces that really are important to me.

Interlochen: What's one book every young person should read?

Colatosti: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is a really important book. Not only is it beautifully written, but it is important in helping people understand diversity and race in the United States. Another important book to read is “Woman on the Edge of Time” by Marge Piercy. It helps people understand what it's like to struggle, and to figure out how to survive when you see yourself as different from everyone else. It helps people understand that there's not just one right way to be in the world.

Interlochen: Do you have any advice that you would give young professionals?

Colatosti: I would tell them to trust themselves, to be engaged and do their best, and not to underestimate their own capacity to build the life and the world that they want.