JJ Butler here. I just got back from three weeks at Interlochen. If you've never been there, the place is incredible and a little intimidating at first. It's 1,200 acres and over 2 miles from one side to the other and probably 100 buildings. All over the campus there are dozens and dozens of little practice rooms. And there's almost always somebody in them. There were 2,546 Arts Campers at my session from 50 states and 41 countries. One out of eight professional orchestra musicians comes through Interlochen.
I was in a cabin with 11 other intermediate boys and 2 counselors. I got lucky with my cabin mates. We all got along well and even the counselors were nice. I also got a great director, Georgia Ekonomou who is from Atlanta. I've had great directors at Roosevelt & Lincoln, and I got lucky at Interlochen too. I was second chair bass in the Interlochen Symphony Orchestra, which is for senior Intermediates. I don't much like being second chair, but a girl from California beat me. She was at camp last year. The other orchestra for strings was Intermediate Concert Orchestra, which is mostly 5th - 6th graders. The music we played was pretty advanced, mostly upper high school level. ISO included strings, brass, winds, percussion. It's the first time I've been in an orchestra with all of those instruments together.
Interlochen is rigorous. I'm not a big morning person, but at Interlochen, we got up at 6:40 (that's Eastern time, 5:40 here). Lights were out at 9:40 at night. You wear uniforms to classes so there's not a lot to decide what to wear. My schedule was an hour practice 8-9, a lesson 9-10, an elective (mine was Composition) from 10-11, an hour of Sectionals from 11-12. In Sectionals we worked on bass technique and individual music. I like my bass instructor. I worked on the most challenging music with him. After Sectionals, we had two hours off for lunch and quiet time. Then there was three hours of rehearsals in the afternoon. So every day at Interlochen, I had fingers on strings for 6 hours. That would have been a good week back at home. It sounds tough, but I got used to it pretty quick. Every night there was at least one concert or play and sometimes several to choose from. Sometimes the whole cabin went to them together or all the Intermediates or in groups or even alone.
We had two big concerts, one was a mid-term 10 days after Camp started and the other the night before I left. The mid-term concert was at Kresge, which is an open air amphitheater. The final was in Corson which is a 1,000 seat theater. At Interlochen, musicians wear bright red sweaters or sweatshirts, and navy courderoys. All that red & navy on the stage makes a very pretty picture.
Thanks for helping make this possible. I will always be grateful to Park Ridge Cultural Arts Society for having faith in me.
Thanks, JJ Butler