Students CREATE AMAZING at "Collage" 2016

“I was reminded that nobody really listens to kids,” read high school creative writing major Sebastian Soros.

In any other setting, this line from Soros’ poem Panic would perhaps be apt. But at “Collage,” the thousands of adults gathered in Kresge Auditorium are there to do just that: listen to kids.

From the first easel set up on Osterlin Mall until the last echo of the Interlochen theme across Green Lake, “Collage” captivated the audience as it has every summer for the past 23 years.

Not even the heat could deter the crowd that began forming on the Mall hours before “Collage” began. Hot and humid though it was, the weather seemed otherwise cooperative: even the wind seemed to hold its breath to listen, and the partly cloudy skies seemed a gift from a sun afraid of outshining the performers.

Two hours before the first notes of the evening, “Collage” festivities were already in full swing. Osterlin Mall was decked out in strings of Christmas lights and bundles of white, black and teal balloons. Visual artists provided family-friendly entertainment in the form of a number of demonstrations: metalworking, printmaking and drawing with live figure models. Intermediate visual artists collaborated, one square each, on a breathtaking pastel drawing using the Mall’s asphalt as a canvas. Across the Mall, fashion design students were creating wearable art before the very eyes of the growing crowd around them. All of this art was accompanied by live music provided by several saxophone ensembles and the Intermediate Jazz Band.

By 7:30, guests were beginning to file into Kresge Auditorium, eager to see what Interlochen Arts Camp students had been creating all summer. As 8 p.m. approached, the lively din of chatter gave way to whispers of anticipation. And at 8 p.m. precisely, Interlochen President Jeff Kimpton took the podium to welcome the audience, officially, to the 23rd performance of "Collage."

Percussion swept the board when it came to originality—literally. Armed only with brooms, comedy and choreography, the percussionists wowed the audience with syncopation, synchronicity, and the surprising variety of sounds yielded by a common household item. For a few moments during the thunderous applause, cleaning almost seemed fun.

Michael Thurber, Interlochen Arts Academy alumnus and upright bassist, also brought fun to the stage. Thurber invited the audience to participate in a minimalist, jazz-inspired rendition of the Beatles’ classic Blackbird. Thurber was not the only non-Camper to lend his talents to “Collage”; recent Academy graduate Noah Klarck and dance instructors Justin Koertgen and Marcia Hetrick also took the stage.

The Advanced String Quartet, led by violinist Tiffany Chang, was especially captivating. Chang led the ensemble expertly through Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, handling the solo sections of the piece with particular poise. So great was the finesse of both Chang and the whole ensemble that even the relentless cicadas were stilled for a moment.

The World Youth Wind Symphony, seated on stage since the opening of the program, was well worth the long wait. The zealous horn section in particular shone in Alberto Ginastera’s “Danza Final from Estancia,” working their chops overtime in satisfying segments of both stopped and open playing. Back in the percussion section, the young xylophone player also proved especially able, effortlessly executing a melody that reached to the back rows of Kresge.

Musical theatre, too, was a strong presence at “Collage” with not one, but three performances. Students from the High School, Intermediate and Junior Musical Theatre programs turned in three showstoppers that yielded the loudest ovations from the captivated crowd. The Juniors, however, were the only group that coaxed a chorus of “awws” from the audience just by walking on stage.

Although the larger acts stole the spotlight, smaller acts were well-represented. The High School Jazz Trio combined three particularly gifted musicians; isolating the strongest member of the ensemble proved a difficult feat as each performer executed increasingly virtuosic solos with ease. The woodwind quintet also delivered a polished performance. Clarinetist Nicole Martin was particularly impressive, playing the exposed sections of Carl Nielsen’s Quintet for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, French Horn and Bassoon flawlessly.

Although the music, dance and theatre departments are the most prominent at “Collage,” all other departments offered their talents to the production. Audience members in the rear sections glimpsed art-in-progress as visual artists created images of “Collage” in real time from their perches around the sides and aisles of Kresge Auditorium. Motion Picture Arts was represented in a short animated film, “It’s a Metaphor,” created by Lucy Rose Muntersbjorn.

Creative writing, too, provided entertainment in the form of two readings from young writers. Claire Querio impressed with her short work, “The Things I Know and the Things I Don’t.” In both style and content, Querio showed a maturity beyond her years.

The evening finished, as always, with a performance by the World Youth Symphony Orchestra. Led in week 4 by Joshua Weilerstein, WYSO presented an excerpt from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. WYSO performed to their usual high standard under Weilerstein’s direction; Weilerstein in particular seemed to enjoy the experience, exuding joy and enthusiasm in his expansive smile and effervescent movements.

“Collage” also served as the official launch for CREATE AMAZING: The Campaign for Interlochen. “There’s no better way to celebrate the impact that Interlochen has on the world today than a Collage performance,” said Campaign Co-Chair Nancy Hoagland in her opening remarks.

Eloquent though Hoagland was, perhaps the World Youth Honors Choir, Interlochen Singers, Intermediate Vocal Arts Ensemble, and Intermediate Choir captured the impact of Interlochen best in their program-opening performance of “It Takes A Village.”

Or, perhaps, an Arts Camp.