The Reisz family finds Interlochen and Interlochen finds support

  • Eli Reisz (right) poses with Instructor of Percussion Keith Aleo (left).

  • Fred (left) and Julie (right) Reisz.

Julie Reisz’s search for Interlochen began when her son Eli’s first marimba lesson ended.

The teacher told Eli his chance of becoming a professional musician was slim to none, not because he lacked talent, but because his parents “had zero knowledge about music education.”

While not musically trained, Eli’s father, Fred, is a longtime season ticket holder to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. They have enjoyed concerts together since Eli was young and continue to do so to this day. His wife, Julie, is an art history graduate who has worked in marketing and advertising as a creative director. Fred and Julie are passionate about the arts and, most importantly, wanted to help Eli.

Consequently, the disheartening words were a call to action. They motivated Julie to find Interlochen, and Arts Academy Instructor of Percussion, Keith Aleo.

Eli attended Interlochen Arts Camp for two summers and is now a sophomore at the Arts Academy studying with Aleo. When Eli returns home to California he takes lessons from Matthew Howard, Principal Percussionist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, an arrangement facilitated by Aleo. And this summer he was accepted into the Eastern Music Festival as their youngest percussionist.

Today, Fred and Julie are grateful parents. They support Interlochen as donors and Julie additionally volunteers. Julie gives Keith all the credit. She refers to him as Eli’s "Music Dad.”

When asked about his teacher, Eli says, “Mr. Aleo has had an incredible influence on me in so many ways from my music to my everyday life. What I admire most is his down-to-earth personality and desire to truly help people.” Eli even works with Aleo as an Admissions Ambassador helping with student recruitment.

Julie’s gratitude for Keith’s instruction and Interlochen’s community extended further into philanthropy. In 2015, she and Fred began making gifts to Interlochen’s Annual Fund.

Still, she wanted to do more.

Julie joined Interlochen’s Annual Funds Committee, and then became its chair. The committee is a passionate group of alumni, parents and friends from around the globe. They personally reach out and thank donors for their support and encourage them to continue helping Interlochen.

“Not only has working on the committee allowed me to help more kids get to Interlochen, but It has also provided me the opportunity to speak with people from all over the country who value Interlochen as much as I do. I have spoken with the most interesting people, and I have heard the most wonderful stories.”

Last summer, Julie’s close friend, who couldn’t understand how someone could send their child away, sent her own son to Interlochen Arts Camp to study percussion. She told Julie that her son had never been so happy in his entire life as he was at Interlochen.

Julie knows one summer at Interlochen changed her son’s life. Now she is committed to helping other students have a transformative experience at Interlochen through her own philanthropy, advocacy and volunteer outreach. Julie says she wishes she could scream from the mountain tops, "Send your kid to Interlochen!"

You might say that is exactly what she’s doing with her financial support and as an Interlochen volunteer.

Do you want to create the opportunity for young artists to come to Interlochen? You can by making a gift to the Interlochen Annual Fund or by joining the Interlochen Annual Funds Committee. For more information, please contact Emily Culler, Leadership Annual Giving Manager, at or 231.276.7624.