Read below to see how Interlochen alumni, parents and friends are creating amazing people, place and programs.
Have your own Interlochen story to tell? Share your story today.
Ann Marie Brink – Viola Power
Violist Ann Marie Hudson Brink still remembers the difficulty of trying to talk her parents into letting her come to Interlochen Arts Academy. Brink’s father was a salesman; her mother was a dental hygienist. At the time that Interlochen came to Brink’s attention, her father was unemployed.
“We had a few good laughs about it: ’Yeah, yeah, like you’re going to go to boarding school,’” said Brink.
But for Brink, Interlochen was no laughing matter. “I knew Interlochen had a summer program,” she said, “So I thought, ‘At least I can go for the summer.’” After a partial scholarship, a paid position as a member of the Pensacola Symphony and a loan from her older sister, Brink was able to fund a summer of studying viola at Interlochen Arts Camp. Immediately, she realized that she needed to stay.
“I had found my people,” she said. “I met friends who were just as enthusiastic about playing in an orchestra as I was. For me, it was paradise.”
Unbeknownst to her parents, Brink then applied to Interlochen Arts Academy, filling out all the paperwork on her own. But to be eligible for financial aid, she needed her parents’ tax returns. “I remember calling my parents from a phone booth in the middle of the woods and saying, ‘Let’s just try to make this a go,’” she said. “I did not want to give them the option of telling me no.” Interlochen’s office of financial aid came through, and Brink was able to attend Interlochen Arts Academy for her sophomore, junior and senior years of high school.
“Interlochen was the genesis of my career as an artist,” she said. “It was where I laid the foundation for my career today. All I had to do was stay focused, and my dreams started coming true.” Today, Brink is the associate principal violist of the Dallas Symphony and a professor at Southern Methodist University. She’s also helping dreams come true for other young artists.
Brink’s husband, Greg, comes from a tradition of philanthropy, which he has shared with his wife. “When we got married and joined our finances, he said, ‘This is what I do, this is what percentage I give to charity every year.’” Her husband asked what institutions she would like to support; Interlochen was an immediate choice.
“For me to be able to go to Interlochen meant someone had to contribute,” said Brink. “Being a donor is the best way to honor [the people who contributed to my scholarship] and to continue that tradition. It meant so much to me to be able to go, and I know what it’s like to have that ‘question mark’ and wonder if you can study music because it’s such a tremendous financial investment.”
Brink’s support provides a scholarship for a young viola student each summer. “I love getting letters and photos from a viola student at the end of each summer,” she said. “I don’t have children of my own, so I feel that this is my legacy.”
Brink hopes others will choose to support Interlochen as well. “Obviously, one person can’t do it themselves,” she said. “There’s more than one kid who needs money to get to Interlochen. I think it’s important that collectively we invest in a future generation of artists.”
“The artistic community that we will have 10, 15, 20 or 30 years from now is going to be the community we invest in today,” she added. “They need guidance, they need teachers, they need financial support. They’re not going to be able to do it on their own.”
For The Love of Music, Dance and Interlochen
What do you do if you love classical music, dance and Interlochen?
For Mary Hughes, daughter of Robert and Ruth Haidt Hughes, it has meant guiding her parent’s legacy at Interlochen.
Robert and Mary’s favorite classical radio station was Interlochen Public Radio, and the first part of their legacy was to help build the station’s classical music library.
Her parents gave generously during their lives to IPR. But Robert planned to support IPR long into the future with an estate gift, establishing the Robert T. & Ruth Haidt Hughes Memorial Acquisitions Fund for IPR. This fund has helped the station purchase thousands of recordings and is still helping IPR expand its musical library today.
Next, Robert took his joy of the arts, love for his wife and desire to support Interlochen’s dance program and did more. Ruth was a professional dancer. In fact, she was the first American to dance with the Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo, and she also worked with choreographers Léonide Massine and George Balanchine.
When Ruth passed away in 1991, he established the Ruth Haidt Hughes Memorial Endowed Dance Scholarship in her memory. Since then, this endowed scholarship has helped more than 20 dancers attend Interlochen Arts Academy, including scholarship recipient Mark Lambert, pictured here with Mary.
After her father passed in 2003, Mary continued the Hughes’ story. According to Mary, “I had a desire to see how my father’s bequests benefitted IPR and dance scholarship recipients.”
Recalling how her parents’ love for Interlochen began with IPR, Mary remembers:
“[Dad] established a legacy at IPR in part because of the personal friendships that he and my mother developed with Thom Paulson [longtime former IPR General Manager], Phil Haldeman [longtime former IPR morning host] and other employees of the station. They enjoyed stopping by and visiting. They listened to IPR every day and appreciated the classical music programs.”
Now the next generation of IPR employees is getting to know Mary. IPR Classical Music Host Amanda Sewell noted that the Hughes’ endowment makes the New Release of the Week feature she hosts possible.
“Thanks to the Hughes Fund, Classical IPR was able to launch a New Release of the Week feature at the beginning of 2017. The support from the Hughes Fund means we can choose and cultivate our music library, making sure we’re bringing the very best options to our listeners.”
Mary continues her parents’ legacy with her own philanthropy, making a recent gift to support the digitization of archived material at IPR, one of the station’s highest priorities in CREATE AMAZING: The Campaign for Interlochen.
“IPR deserves to be supported for its quality programing, preserving the audio history of Interlochen, and as a resource for its students and others.” —Mary Hughes
Thanks to the generosity of Robert and Ruth during and after their lives—and now to their daughter Mary’s continued stewardship and philanthropy—IPR can expand and preserve its classical music library, and aspiring dancers can come to Interlochen with support from their endowed scholarship.
We are grateful for more music, more dance and a richer artistic world thanks to Robert, Ruth and Mary Hughes.
New scholarships building new legacies
Two new endowed scholarships are already touching lives: the Barbara Taylor Sandys Dance Scholarship and the Ann & Byron Hanson Camp Scholarship.
Read more about Barb, Ann & Byron and some of the students they touched in this recent Crescendo article:
Paying back, moving forward
A scholarship enabled Candace Wiebener (IAC/NMC 60-63; IAC St 68-71) to attend Camp. After 44 years as a music educator and path-breaking conductor, learn how she now helps others have life-changing experiences.
Robert B. Annis: His Scientific and Philanthropic Legacy
Donor’s Legacy Expands through CREATE AMAZING
Robert B. Annis’ fascination with radio began during his high school years. Born in 1907 in Connorsville, Ind., Annis excelled in both academic and artistic subjects from his childhood onward. While Annis was in high school, a teacher helped Annis and several other students build their own radio transmitter and receiver. Annis quickly was in intrigued by the fast-growing industry and spent much of his free time contacting other operators.
Financial difficulties forced Annis to leave Shortridge High School after only one year, but Annis retained the passion for art, science and radio that had been kindled there. Annis continued to study his newfound interests by joining the Indianapolis Radio Club and the newly founded Scientech Club. During his years as member, board member and eventually president of the Scientech Club, Annis bonded with club founder D.J. Angus, who became a close mentor and friend to the young enthusiast. Angus would later help Annis find a variety of jobs which suited his interests, including a position at the Thomas and Skinner Magnet Plant.
By the late 1920s, Annis had returned to school, attending classes in the morning and working in the afternoon. In the evenings, Annis founded his own business out of the duplex he shared with his mother; the company made and sold radio components, electrical apparatuses and complete radio systems.
Over the next several decades, the R.B. Annis Company survived first the Great Depression, then World War II, by being flexible. Annis turned to photography and cinematography to help drum up business during the Depression. During World War II, Annis and his company shifted their focus to magnetism and precision balancing instruments needed for wartime production. After the war, the R.B. Annis Company continued to have steady business working primarily in the magnetics field.
By 1996, Bob Annis’ company had made the owner a multimillionaire. Annis himself founded the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation to provide direction on how his wealth should be distributed after his death. Annis hand-picked the individuals who would serve on the board of trustees of his foundation. One of his choices was Chuck Angus, the nephew of his friend and mentor D.J. Angus.
In 1999, Annis passed away at age 92, leaving Chuck Angus and the other trustees in control of his foundation.
“I knew he was a successful businessman, but I had no knowledge of his net worth,” said Angus. “I was dumbfounded to learn that he had left about $14 million to his foundation.”
Angus and the other trustees began searching for causes in line with Annis’ interests. “Bob always wanted to encourage young people to get involved in and learn about the joys of science,” said Angus. “Bob put what he had learned to use, to involve himself in something that was very interesting and worthwhile. So many young people never find that.”
Annis’ interests went beyond science, however: he retained the interest in art and music that he also had had since childhood. With each of these puzzle pieces in place, Chuck Angus began to realize that the perfect beneficiary of the R.B. Annis Foundation was an institution he was already very familiar with: Interlochen Arts Academy.
Angus’ two daughters, Hester and Katherine, both attended Interlochen Arts Academy for all four years of their high school education. “I was driving from Spring Lake to Interlochen for eight straight years,” Angus said. “I know every bump in the road between Interlochen and Spring Lake.”
“Bob realized the connection and relationship between math and science and physics to music,” Angus said. “He would have loved nothing more than to have taught a class at Interlochen with Nadji and then go slogging through the streams around Interlochen with Mary Ellen Newport.”
The Annis Foundation’s generous support over fifteen years has provided a wide range of equipment for R.B. Annis Math and Science Division students, from hip waders and snowshoes for ecology students to microscopes for biology students.
Most recently, the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation funded the much-needed renovation of the Dow Science Rotunda. “When I got here, the Dow Rotunda was designed for 250 students,” said Mary Ellen Newport, director of the R.B. Annis Math and Science Division. “Now, we have double that number. There was no room for students or teachers; rooms two and seven were divided in half, and half of that space was storage.
The new renovation has expanded the space in each classroom. Each teacher also had the opportunity to design their own classroom: Katie Wibby designed innovative triangular tables to help each member of a chemistry lab group to participate more easily in experiments, and Taoufik Nadji designed his curtain to function as a pinhole camera.
Although the Dow Science Rotunda has officially reopened, there’s still room for improvement. Newport hopes to construct a storage area to replace that which was removed from rooms two and seven, and also to create an area where ecology and biology students can clean up after outdoor excursions.
In addition, the R.B. Annis Educational Foundation grant has provided funds for a new botanical lab, which is under construction next to the Interlochen Public Radio building. “It’s beyond generosity,” said Newport. “Chuck comes to us to ask us what we need. He always gives us ideas for new improvements and new spaces.”
According to Angus, the relationship is mutually beneficial: while Bob Annis may have focused on science, Angus recognizes the importance of the arts. “As far as our foundation is concerned, we can do both through any support to Interlochen,” Angus said.
Shirley Young has never forgotten her cultural and artistic roots.
Interlochen Trustee Emerita Shirley Young has never forgotten her cultural and artistic roots.
Young was born in China, but spent most of her formative years living in the United States. She attended Phillips Academy in Massachusetts for high school and Wellesley College for her undergraduate degree. After graduation, Young spent 25 years working for Grey Strategic Marketing before accepting a position with General Motors.
Now retired, Young has more time to devote to the things about which she is passionate. One passion is helping to bridge the gap between Chinese and American cultures. The other is music, a hobby for which she had had little time since beginning her career.
Once an avid pianist, Young had heard the name “Interlochen” mentioned many times throughout her life, but never attended or visited campus. Then one night, at a dinner with Interlochen Arts Academy alumnus and Life Trustee James Tolley, the name came up again. “I told him, ‘I’m kind of interested in Interlochen; I don’t know much about it, but I’ve heard about it over the years, and I’d really be interested in knowing more,’” Young said. “Of course, he immediately pursued that, and eventually they invited me to join the board.”
Young’s term on the board of trustees has ended, yet she continues to be involved as a trustee emerita and a donor. As a member of the board of trustees for the New York Philharmonic, Young was very excited to learn of the partnership between Interlochen and the Philharmonic.
This presented another opportunity for Young to be a philanthropist. She made a generous gift that was used to challenge donors to support sending students to New York for the Arts Academy Orchestra’s performance as part of NY Phil Biennial. Her challenge was the catalyst behind Interlochen’s first crowdfunding effort—which was a rousing success.
“To see the Arts Academy Orchestra performing at Geffen Hall in a Philharmonic program was hugely rewarding,” she said. “I think it was just a great demonstration of what Interlochen produces.”
Young has been a longstanding donor to Interlochen, giving to other important priorities such as the Interlochen Annual Fund and the International Fund, and including Interlochen in her estate. Her impact extends even further than philanthropy.
“One of the things that I felt very strongly was that the world is globalizing, and classical music is so strong in China,” said Young. “There are 40 million students studying piano and violin in China, so this was a world I felt Interlochen needed to be part of and that Interlochen needed to understand, and that our students needed to understand.”
With this in mind, Young has been marketing Interlochen to Chinese families for several years now. It’s not an easy sell: American teenagers, independence and even the idea of “summer camp” are strange ideas for Chinese parents. Nonetheless, Interlochen is the perfect opportunity for Chinese students to practice their English while studying their art of choice.
Young also helped establish a partnership between Interlochen and the Shanghai Conservatory. “I felt it was important for Interlochen to have a linkage to China at the academic and faculty level,” she said. “We created a mutually beneficial arrangement where Interlochen could learn about China and Chinese music, students and music culture and the Conservatory could learn about musical theatre, brass playing—which needs improvement in China—and chamber music.”
Most importantly, Young has been a resource for the many Chinese children who choose to attend Interlochen, helping staff communicate with parents and resolve difficulties. But her help is becoming a bit less necessary as technology advances.
“Last year I was hugely amused because an 8-year-old came to Camp, and he really didn’t speak any English,” Young said. “He used this app on his phone to do translations, and he did fine.
Supporting Interlochen, Bringing Students Together
For Becky Ruthven, a history of connection to Interlochen, along with the power of the arts to unite, inspired her to establish a scholarship for Camp students.
Her connection to Interlochen began through her family. Living near campus, she grew up attending concerts and events. Her mother sang for Interlochen founder Joseph Maddy’s quartet on the radio. And her grandfather, a former University of Michigan president, was instrumental in helping Joe Maddy fund his vision for Camp.
Becky also has seen how Interlochen connects students through the arts. Meet Becky, and a student she helped attend Camp, in this short video.
The Reisz family finds Interlochen and Interlochen finds support
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. And 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 Mr. Aleo. When Eli returns home to California he takes lessons from Matthew Howard, Principal Percussionist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, an arrangement facilitated by Keith. 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 Mr. 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 Fund Committee. For more information, please contact Emily Culler, Leadership Annual Giving Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231.276.7624.
The Will to Give
Her last will & testament was dated March 16, 1996.
In it, Candace “Candy” Hughes, of very sound mind and very good health, specified to “Give, Devise and Bequeath” her costume books and home to Interlochen Center for the Arts. She had just built a new home and had only been working for her employer for a few years.
Back in 1990, Candy Hughes was working as a graphic designer/illustrator in the Washington D.C. area. She had become interested in costume and scenic design. Volunteering at first, she eventually became a costume shop supervisor for Wolf Trap Opera Company and part-time stitcher at Arena Stage. She ended up as an award-winning costume and scenic designer for community theater and regional opera.
And she began to wonder where else could she do this?
“I called Interlochen in 1990, because I knew they had a Theatre department, and asked if they had any openings for the summer. They did, I applied for it, and got it. When I got here I put together a portfolio and a resume and applied for the Academy job, which had become available that summer, and got it. I have been here ever since.”
So what made this self-driven, practical, planful, artistic individual, who has designed and dressed so many actors and dancers for more than 26 years, put Interlochen in her will so long ago?
Thinking back, she simply stated, “It seemed the logical thing to do.”
A visual arts camper in 1966, Candy, may have already known how she was going to feel decades later. When asked what she wanted people to know about her 26-year career at Interlochen, she said:
“I see what Interlochen does for theater and dance majors and that’s what it is about … it’s not about anything else but the opportunities these kids have when they’re here and what that leads to in their adult lives.”
Candy is not only good at planning, but she also has her priorities in place.
Through her generous estate commitment, Candy will continue to help many more professional singers, dancers and actors perform and look their best in their tuxes, tutus and ties.
Using “Warm Hands, Cold Hands” to Advance Planned Gifts During a Lifetime
For CREATE AMAZING donors Nancy and Phil Meek, it all started with a picnic basket.
Former President Jeff Kimpton was paying the Meeks a visit. Trustee Emerita Nancy recalled, “So he walks across the street with a picnic basket, and I’m thinking that second rule of fundraising … there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” But for the Meeks, it “worked out just fine.”
This visit prompted the Meeks to reevaluate their 2014 bequest.
Over sandwiches and iced tea, former President Kimpton explained a situation: The tentative date for breaking ground on the new Music Building was looming, but Interlochen was still several million dollars shy from reaching the fundraising goal needed to break ground. Nancy and Phil already had made a generous estate commitment, but was there another way for them to help meet this challenge?
Nancy and Phil took a second look.
“Given the importance of the Music Building and what they were going to have to go through in a very short period of time to raise the money, we introduced the possibility of what if half of our bequest were changed to “warm hands.” And so that’s where the half a million-dollar commitment came from. It was essentially moving half of it forward.”
Nancy explained, “Warm hands is giving while you’re alive, and cold hands is setting up bequests that are triggered after you’re no longer living.”
Nancy first learned about the warm hands approach from a lecture in Boston. “In some ways it could have gotten us in a lot of trouble … but then the halfway thing I thought was really pretty creative because it keeps you in the loop so to speak. Now I feel like when they break ground … I’m going to be a part of it where I wouldn’t have felt that way if we hadn’t made that decision.”
Their gift had an even more powerful result. Their generosity also accelerated momentum toward achieving the Music Building Challenge—initiated by donors Bill and Linda Nelson—to reach the $17 million groundbreaking goal.
To the Meeks, “the fact that it may have leveraged some additional giving was neat from our standpoint.”
And leverage it did. Within three months, the Music Building Challenge had been met.
Another couple used the warms hand approach during CREATE AMAZING: Dee and Chuck Kelly (All-State ’43-46, Trustee Emeritus). But in a different way.
For Chuck and Dee, the decision was based on years of stewarding their Charitable Remainder Unitrust.
Chuck, a retired dentist, was a camp alumnus, Trustee Emeritus, former Alumni Board member, and original member of the Planned Giving Committee. His experience on the Committee inspired Dee and Chuck to create their first corpus from property they owned in 1982—later creating a second corpus through cash.
The Kellys admitted, “We didn’t really know what we were doing and neither did our attorney and neither did our accountant because they had never written a trust like this before.”
Over the years, the Kellys recognized the drawbacks of their giving vehicle. As interest rates fell and the stock market fluctuated, they realized “costs of trustee charges and accounting charges for tax returns and appeals throughout the years is really prohibitive to keep that corpus up.”
So they took over the trusteeship of their trust, saving costs by learning how to manage the trust themselves. But this constant vigilance was difficult to maintain, so they turned to the warm hands approach.
“Bottom line: we just thought we could definitely get more money to the charities by early termination than we could by waiting until we died and then who knows what would be left.”
Through this early termination, they supported Chuck’s major at Interlochen and named a space in the new Music Building.
Interlochen aligned with their values. In fact when called for this interview, Chuck was just finishing his clarinet practice.
“The philosophy of the whole program that is so much part of my wife’s and my value system [is] that we just recognized Interlochen as being something we cherished and something that sort of changed my life—and I think my wife’s some, too. I think for the better.”
These two couples have supported Interlochen in a variety of facets and recognized the importance of a new Music Building. Now—their names will be forever linked to a new home for Interlochen’s founding discipline.
And when asked what advice they would give to others about the warm hands approach toward reevaluating planned gifts, as the Meeks advised, “take a second look!”
Eight students over 16 years have received the creative writing scholarship.
Rocio Anica first found Interlochen not through writing, but through music when she saw a poster for Interlochen Arts Academy in her high school’s choir room.
Anica put herself on Interlochen’s mailing list, but doubted her ability to attend due to the cost of tuition. She continued to receive mailings from Interlochen, but it was one particular postcard that changed her life: a postcard announcing the inaugural Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship. Anica applied for and received the scholarship, enabling her to come to Interlochen Arts Academy for her senior year of high school in 2002-03.
“Interlochen Arts Academy was such a different environment from my public school in California,” said Anica. “I am—and most writers are—very introverted, and it challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone while also nurturing me.”
The Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship is a biennial $30,000 award given to a prospective Creative Writing student through the generosity of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. Ms. Ball spent only a handful of summers at Interlochen, as first a camper and later a staff member, but continued to be involved with Interlochen throughout her life as a donor and trustee.
After Virginia Ball’s death, the trustees of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation began looking for ways to honor her legacy. The foundation’s statement reads simply that the trustees should support “Whatever was of interest of either Ed or Virginia Ball.” One of Virginia Ball’s interests was the Camp to which she had devoted so much of her life.
“Virginia was wanting to support Interlochen in some fashion,” said Chuck Ball, Virginia’s grandson and one of the current trustees of the Edmond F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. “Interlochen was something she was very interested in in terms of art and music. She was wanted to support Interlochen as well as expand Interlochen.”
As a reflection of Virginia Ball’s desires, the Ball Foundation contacted Interlochen about opportunities for support. One of the proposed options was a newly minted creative writing scholarship, which was as of yet unnamed. The Foundation leapt at the chance: The scholarship is the perfect marriage of not only Virginia Ball’s interest in building programs at Interlochen, but also her deep love of poetry.
Since the scholarship was founded in 2001, eight aspiring writers, including Anica, have been able to attend Interlochen.
Anica credits Interlochen with helping her prepare for the rigors of postsecondary education. “I learned academic writing on top of creative writing,” she explained. “That was a huge help to me when I got to college.”
Phoebe Rusch received the Virginia B. Ball Scholarship in 2005. “My aunt went to Interlochen Arts Academy all four years, so I always knew about Interlochen,” they said. “I went to Camp there when I was a kid.”
Rusch says the scholarship—and the experience—changed their life. “I have a learning disability in math, so my academic performance has been really inconsistent,” Rusch said. “Coming to Interlochen really allowed me to focus on what my strengths are.”
Rusch, a Princeton graduate and current MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, credits their education at Interlochen Arts Academy for opening up their opportunities for the future. “I don’t know if could have gotten into a school like Princeton without Interlochen, or if I could have gotten into an MFA program without Princeton,” they said. “I was exposed to so many writers, discourses and ideas that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to encounter elsewhere.”
Ava Tomasula y Garcia, the scholarship’s 2009 recipient, was about to graduate from middle school when she discovered Interlochen. Born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Tomasula y Garcia had studied alongside the same classmates since kindergarten. “I always hated grade school so much,” she said. “I was feeling pretty sad about going to high school. When I found Interlochen, it seemed like a fairy tale to me.”
Tomasula y Garcia became the youngest-ever recipient of the Virginia B. Ball Scholarship, and despite her parents’ reservations about the distance, attended Interlochen in the fall. At Interlochen, Tomasula y Garcia immediately found the fellowship she had been seeking since kindergarten. “It was the first time that I felt that I had a real group of friends who I loved so much,” she said. “Writing brought us together.”
But it was not just socially that Tomasula y Garcia excelled: she excelled in her writing as well. “It was the first time that adult people had treated my writing seriously,” she said. “I grew completely as a writer, which seems ridiculous to say at 14. I was getting real lessons from real writers.”
Tomasula y Garcia also discovered a love of nature at Interlochen and hopes to enter a postgraduate program in ecology when she graduates from Yale in May.
The 2015 recipient, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Lemieux, is still a student at Interlochen Arts Academy. Lemieux found Interlochen—and the Virginia B. Ball Scholarship—after seeing an advertisement on a writing website. “I would not be able to be here without the scholarship,” Lemieux said. It was not only the monetary award, but also the prestige of winning it, that helped ensure Lemieux’s place at Interlochen. “Winning the scholarship encouraged my parents to support my decision to come here,” she said. “It showed them that I deserved to be here.”
Lemieux is still making her Interlochen memories, but she has plenty so far. “I love just sitting on my friend’s floor writing and bouncing ideas off of each other,” she said. Lemieux also loved her first-ever Interlochen field trip to nearby Traverse City. “We got to see a visiting writer at the opera house,” she said. “I loved having the freedom to be among peers while also seeing professional writers in a professional setting.”
The scholarship’s other recipients include Molly McDaniel, Sarah (Steinhouse) Kass and Sarah Resnick. The 2011 recipient, Brittany Newell, will release her debut novel, Oola, in April of 2017.
The Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship will be awarded again in the spring of 2017. Stay tuned for the announcement of the latest recipient!
To learn more about the Virginia B. Ball Competition and all of our past recipients, click here.
You Are Never Too Young
A young, extraordinary alumnus you helped gives back to his alma mater.
Charles Barr Organ Scholarship recipient Bryan Dunnewald, student of Tom Bara, was extraordinary at Interlochen.
By the time he graduated in 2014 he had impressed fellow students and faculty, receiving the Young Artist Award, the Young Scholar Award, the Roger E. and Mary Jane Jacobi Award, the Fine Arts Award, and Einstein Award in Physics.
Now a Curtis Institute of Music organ student of Alan Morrison, Bryan continues to be extraordinary at Interlochen by giving back to his alma mater.
Asked what motivates him to give back to Interlochen, he said:
“Interlochen is very important to me, shaping my life musically and personally. General Dance, Advanced Physics, learning to write well, and jazz improvisation are just a few of the many transformative experiences at Interlochen which pushed my boundaries and expanded my horizons.
We are lucky to study and live in a community of dedicated peers, learning from our friends as much as our teachers. Those friends remain close, keeping the artistic community strong and providing inspiration and support long after graduation.”
This past summer, while serving as Tom Bara’s teaching assistant at Camp, Tom and Bryan talked about their vision for a new organ wing in Interlochen’s anticipated Music Building.
“Tom and I both thought…the new wing would bring the already excellent organ program to a new level, and so I knew I wanted to support it. I am fortunate to have studied organ at Interlochen, and I’m excited to see how the new organ wing helps a great and special teacher, program and institution continue to grow.”
This new year we can all be inspired to do more by someone so young already having done so much. Thank you Bryan for setting an extraordinary example in your commitment to the arts!
Interlochen Center for the Arts recently received a $2 million gift from the Corson Family of Middlebury, Indiana and Naples, Florida to create a new waterfront park on Green Lake, at the core of Interlochen’s historic campus.
The gift comes from the Estate of Dorthy S. Corson, Thomas H. Corson, Jim and Claire (Corson) Skinner, and the Corson Family Foundation, to honor the memory of the recently deceased Dorthy S. “Dot” Corson, Mr. Corson’s wife and Ms. Skinner’s mother.
The new park will revitalize the public areas adjacent to the Stone Hotel and Kresge Auditorium, and will enhance the shoreline northwest to the dance facility. Plans provide for barrier free access to the beach and waterfront, scenic overlooks, remodeled historic buildings, a promenade with lighted walkways, seating and garden areas, and a new lakeside café. Another part of the gift will also help Interlochen construct a much-needed music building on campus.
The Corson family has a long history of involvement and support of Interlochen. Thomas H. Corson served as an Interlochen Trustee from 1973 to 1997 and was elected a Life Trustee in 2006. He and his wife, Dorthy, became involved after their daughter Claire Corson Skinner attended Interlochen Arts Camp in 1971. In addition to annual gifts for endowment and scholarship, the family also funded the landmark Corson Auditorium, which is still the premier performance center for Interlochen and the Traverse City area.
“Interlochen has enriched our lives, as well as so many others—students, alumni, staff and guests,” said Thomas H. Corson. “We are very grateful to be able to honor Dot’s memory and her wishes with a gift that can be shared with the entire Interlochen community for years to come.”
The intention of the Corsons’ most recent gift is “to create a place where everyone can appreciate the natural beauty of the Interlochen campus, listening to music while looking over the lake, just as Dot Corson did on her many visits to Interlochen,” says Interlochen President Jeffrey Kimpton. “This improved lakeshore park will not just be for our students, parents, staff and faculty, but for all our guests, patrons and visitors. This project will make the lakefront more inviting, accessible and beautiful and will enhance the enjoyment of the stunning natural beauty we have here on the Interlochen campus.”
Making Giving a Part of Living
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” － Winston Churchill
Michael Dermody (IAA 66-68) lives by Churchill’s words and has put them into practice, benefiting many organizations including Interlochen Center for the Arts.
As Chairman and CEO of Dermody Properties in Reno, Nevada, Michael came to know other executives in the area, including the President of Nevada Bell, Robert Blanz. In 1994, Mr. Blanz was on Interlochen’s Corporate Council which consisted of various professionals volunteering their executive expertise to benefit Interlochen. Mr. Blanz learned Michael was an Interlochen Arts Academy alumnus, and invited him to join the Council.
A bit hesitant at first, Michael agreed. In a short time, he became the Council’s chair, although he downplays his leadership saying, “… it was akin to the Army. I didn’t know I was going to be the leader, everyone took one step back.”
Returning to Interlochen as a successful businessman and a father, he saw the “wonder” of the educational value of his alma mater. He remembers it as one of the most humbling experiences he ever had, “… because first of all, I realized how naive I was as a student and unappreciative of the opportunity.” He found that Interlochen students, while very diverse in their backgrounds, were all driven by their artistic passion — and most were on scholarships. As Michael remembers it, “That hit me huge. I got so fired up that I wanted to import Interlochen’s model to my hometown of Reno.”
Michael had already been active in Reno by starting the Children’s Cabinet, a nationally recognized family resource center serving over 10,000 children and families annually. Additionally, he had founded the Dermody Properties Foundation, which is uniquely managed by company employees, and benefits thousands of families through hundreds of nonprofit organizations and causes.
It was natural then that Michael’s Interlochen experience would lead to the founding of Sage Ridge School in Reno. It has become Northern Nevada’s only non-sectarian preparatory school serving over 200 students with 100% of graduates attending four year colleges. Today that school—born out of Michael’s experience at Interlochen some 50 years ago—was ranked in 2015 as one of the nation’s top 50 smartest private high schools by Business Insider.
At Interlochen, Michael’s involvement also grew. After chairing the Corporate Council for four years, he became a Trustee, serving from 1998-2004. But as influential as Michael’s support of Interlochen was as a volunteer leader, he still wanted to do more.
Interlochen had for many years been important to his family in Grand Rapids. They were, “much more accomplished in the arts, and understood the Interlochen opportunity.” His cousin, Bill Hart (AS 53, 55; IAC St 59), was the first in the family to attend Interlochen and the catalyst for the family’s Interlochen relationship. Studying trumpet, he went on to tour with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. He later taught math at Macomb Community College for 46 years and was named Michigan’s “Professor of the Year” in 1989.
Wanting to honor Bill and support CREATE AMAZING: The Campaign for Interlochen, Michael established the William L. Hart Annual Trumpet Scholarship to award a generous scholarship to an Arts Academy student studying trumpet.
His cousin’s experience exemplifies what Michael sees as the real story of Interlochen: “Families sacrificing because they have confidence that their kids will excel.” He also noted that Interlochen often becomes an alternate family to many students, allowing them to succeed because of the support they find here.
Michael reflected on his time at Interlochen.
“To this day, it is very humbling … I just wish when I was a student, I had the wisdom I have now … What I saw at Interlochen was others helping others and it was inspirational.”
For Michael, the commitment to giving — as part of living — continues.
Interlochen gave Judith Harris a gift of creativity; today, she acknowledges the gift she received by giving back financially.
At 38 years old, lifelong pianist and music teacher Judith Harris (IAA 66-69, IAC/NMC 65-66, 70) decided to change careers; she moved to Switzerland and entered the training program at the C.G. Jung Institute in Zürich for psychoanalysis.
The two careers may seem vastly different, but Harris believes they have much more in common than it might seem. “The creative process is still at the center of my work,” she says. Her Interlochen experience prepared her to excel in both careers.
“Interlochen gave me the ability to think, to have discipline, and to understand the patterns in all kinds of intricate things,” she says. These are qualities she draws on every day, whether she’s playing piano, serving as president of the Philemon Foundation, or analyzing her clients’ dreams.
“In my field, there are many people who used to be musicians or dancers or actors before they became psychoanalysts,” she says, because “we recognize that healing often happens through discovery of one’s own creative process.” She also finds that artists are drawn to analysis because they are comfortable exploring the unconscious: “If you’re a great painter,” for example, “you are painting in the unconscious as well.” She often helps her clients to explore the unconscious through writing. Even more than her university education, she credits her time at Interlochen as a camper and Academy student with preparing her to do this kind of work.
“It’s such a unique place,” she says, because both the arts education and the academics are of the highest quality. “The standard of excellence was far higher at Interlochen than what was available to me in my small hometown of London, Ontario. I’ve always been grateful for that.” This is one of the reasons she feels so strongly about continuing to support Interlochen: “When one has received something, one must give back.”
For Harris, giving back began early. She made her first gift to Interlochen in 1968 and since then, has supported the Annual Fund, the construction of the new music building and other key areas. Through CREATE AMAZING, Harris also decided to perpetuate her philanthropic legacy even further with an estate commitment that includes Interlochen.
But it’s not just for personal and philanthropic reasons that Harris remains devoted to Interlochen. She wants as many people as possible to experience Interlochen so that they will go out into the world and share that experience with others.
“Anyone who has been at Interlochen keeps that experience with them for the rest of their lives,” she says. “If you’re a parent, you pass it on to your children. If you’re a teacher, you pass it on to your students. If you’re a doctor, you pass it on to your patients. People who live in the arts, as I do, will bring a wider dimension to whatever they do.”