When I returned from China, I had a few wonderful days at home before it was time to leave for this year’s Adult Chamber Music Institute at Interlochen. This annual event welcomes adult, mostly avocational musicians from all over the country for a week of learning, music-making, listening and performing. The participants, whose ages and levels of ability span a wide range, include string players, wind players, and pianists. Some are students, some are busy professionals, and some are retired. A few are professional musicians, most play as a hobby, some have studied seriously, and many didn’t play for years only to return to their instruments with renewed dedication, vigor and interest. Regardless of background, I find them to be intelligent, eager to learn, and tireless in their commitment to cramming as much chamber music into a one-week period as possible.
On my first morning in Interlochen the day before the official opening of the camp, I heard a woodwind quintet already reading through some new music together early in the morning as I had coffee by the lake. And after a long day of rehearsals, coachings, master classes, and concerts, it isn’t uncommon to hear music coming from many of the buildings until at least midnight, as many of the participants leave evening concerts not to go back to their cabins, but to make more music with their friends and colleagues.
Many participants have been attending this camp for decades, and there are always some new faces. While each year is special, this year proved to be extraordinary, with a fantastic blend of new and returning participants, all with great attitudes and an eagerness to embrace the chance to elevate their level of playing, explore standard repertoire, and learn new music and new techniques. Their dedication, excitement, and joy are inspiring and uplifting.
The faculty for this camp come from orchestras and universities around the country, and I think they are all terrific. We get to work together coaching the participants, and have daily rehearsals with one another in preparation for our faculty concerts. This year, I was thrilled to be assigned to perform the Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen with violinist Inés Voglar, cellist Kacy Clopton, and pianist Cary Lewis. We arrived at our first rehearsal both excited and humbled by the music we were ready to explore together. It quickly became clear that everyone had prepared carefully, not just knowing each of our parts and how they fit together, but also in anticipation of the enormous emotional, mental, and physical energy demanded by this incredible work. After only a few days of intense rehearsals, filled with focus, determination, laughter, tears, and unbridled respect and support for one another, performing this quartet together was an unforgettable experience. The featured photo on this blog post was taken after our concert on Thursday, August 16.
All accomplished artists are dedicated, lifelong students. As we work with other adults, we are educating and reminding them, at the same time that we are reminding ourselves, about what is essential. And they remind us about so many things, including the purity of making music for no other reason than for the sheer joy of it. Each year, I learn both from the participants and from my faculty colleagues. I am proud to be a part of this institute and look forward to returning next August.
For more information, visit www.college.interlochen.org/adult-classes/chamber-camp.
When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—–“Anthem” by Leonard Cohen