Monday, August 16, 2010

Interlochen Fine Arts Camp

This is the Intermediate Wind Symphony warming up.
This summer I went to Interlochen Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. Interlochen is a summer fine arts camp for grades 3-12, which takes students from all over the United States and many countries around the world. You have to audition to get in to most of the middle and high school programs. I auditioned on clarinet, and I made 3rd chair, which meant I played in both the Intermediate Wind Symphony and the Intermediate Symphony Orchestra.

I had a great time. It was my first time away from home for three weeks. There were a lot of things I really liked about Interlochen: everyone was so involved in their art, everyone was really nice, the music fun, and I really enjoyed my classes. I wish I got to stay there longer.

I was surprised that everyone was nice and there were no bullies. That's surprising, because in most gatherings of middle school boys, like school, there always seem to be some kids who want to cause pain for other kids. At school, I can't just be myself, because some kids will be mean to me, because I'm different from what they think is normal. I love playing my clarinet more than anything, I love classical music instead of pop and rock music like most people my age, I love history, and I homeschool part time. At school, I feel like I can't be open about who I am. Interlochen was different. There is was okay to be myself, and people didn't make fun of me. I felt accepted for who I am. Sometimes people did things that bothered me, but no one was trying to be mean on purpose. I wish school could be more like that.

This is Kaelen, Nick and me with my baby brother Morgan.
Another thing that was cool about Interlochen was that everyone was very involved in their art which was amazing because I've never been surrounded by so many artists before. It was inspiring and motivating. It is nice to know that there are that many people in the country who love music, and drama, and visual arts. The music was interesting, and there was a lot of it. The toughest piece we played in orchestra was Katchaturian's Saber Ballet, but I had played it before, so it wasn't too much. The band music was easier, but there were five pieces to learn and perfect ever week, as well as orchestra pieces to prepare.

I loved my classes at Interlochen. I had five or six classes a day. The first class was Intermediate Wind Symphony, which was all the intermediate winds. My second class was either Clarinet Sectionals or Woodwind Sectionals depending on the day. My third class was practice hour. For practice hour, you have a practice hut, and a practice supervisor walks around to assist and encourage you to practice.

Once a week instead of practice hour I had a clarinet lesson with Sandra Jackson, who was my teacher at
Interlochen. She is very nice and she is an exceptional clarinetist. She's even performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

This is Nicholas, who came from London,  reading The Fountainhead.
My next class was Instrument Exploration where I learned about many instruments. It was fun to learn how to play new instruments, except the flute. For some reason playing the flute made me really dizzy and kind of nauseous. I must have doing it wrong. My fifth class was either Orchestra or Performance skills. Orchestra went on for two hours and was the best class of the day. We worked on the pieces we were going to play in the concert during Orchestra Class. Performance skills was basically a clarinet octet. We worked on chamber music most of the time and sometimes we talked about clarinet stuff. My sixth class was Orchestra sectionals. This was when the clarinets in orchestra worked on our orchestra parts. There were four of us, but only one girl. Her name is Julia and she was my stand partner. She comes from the Chicago area too, and she plays with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

We had two free days every week. The first two days of camp were free days. I mostly was meeting new people those days, but I had my seating audition on the second day.  During the third free day, I was hurrying around to concerts all day, and at night I went to the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, which is the top
orchestra of the high school program. It was amazing. I gave them a standing ovation as did everyone else. The second day of that weekend I got two board games in the mail: Small World and Stone Age. My cabin mates and I played both games many times through the rest of the time at Interlochen. The last weekend before the final concert basically all we did was play Small World and talk and play our instruments. Thomas Wolfgang, an oboe player in my cabin, especially liked the game and wanted to play it over and over again. It was a great time and I had a great cabin.

This is me with my practice hour buddies.
Hanging out with my cabin was one of my favorite things. Every night we had a bunk talk. During the bunk talk, we talked about many things. Sometimes the counselors, John and Theo, told very very scary ghost stories that gave us all nightmares. Sometimes they asked us questions about what we liked and disliked about Interlochen, what we were looking forward to doing at Interlochen and during the rest of our lives. We joked that we would all meet up again at Carnegie Hall. The last thing we did during bunk talk was listen to soothing music. I loved bunk talk, it was the most relaxing part of the day.

One of the best things about Interlochen were the performances. They were amazing. A few of the performances really stood out, like the WYSO performances, Aida, and the Parker String Quartet. The Parker Quartet played very beautifully and I loved the way they moved together while they played.  They communicated very well when they played.  Aida was also an amazing performance. The actress who playing as Aida was terrific. Her voice was beautiful, and I really liked how she played the character. The stage set was also very cool. The story was really interesting, it was about a Nubian princess who is captured by an Egyptian Captain. I think my favorite performances were the  WYSO performances. They were just amazing. When they played I was so totally entranced that I didn't pay attention to anything but the music. All the performances were unbelievable and I wish I could see them all again at home.


  1. Hooray for Interlochen, Small World and your blog! So fun to read--thanks for sharing, Torin!

  2. Hi Torin! It's Sam Hollister from Interlochen. I'm glad you had such a good time. I'll definitely be going back next year, too. Good luck with your 10,000 hours. That's a long time. :D


  3. Torin,

    What a wonderful summary of your experience. Sounds like you had a great time. I look forward to this coming year working with you.


  4. Great post! One of the best things in life is to find a place where you can be yourself with others who enjoy the same things. That's why we have conventions like GENCON, and Comic-con. It's wonderful to hear that you've found one place like that for yourself.

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys. I really appreciate it when people comment on my blog.

    I'm definitely going back to Interlochen next year!