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BWW Review: INTERLOCHEN ARTS ACADEMY Orchestra and Dancers Gave a Stellar Concert as Part of the NY Philharmonic Biennial

I was delighted but not surprised by the polished professionalism of the teenage musicians and dancers from Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts who performed on the afternoon of June 5th 2016 at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center as part of the New York Philharmonic's Biennial celebration. I expected nothing less because I knew from my own years as a ballet major and later as a ballet teacher at Interlochen's summer camp that first-rate artistry is the goal at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

The program, which offered world and New York premieres by composers and a choreographer not much older than the young musicians and dancers, was conducted by the effusively exuberant Christopher Rountree. A release noted that Rountree is the "founder, conductor and creative director of the path-breaking Los Angeles chamber orchestra 'wild Up,' which mixes elements of traditional classical music with new music, performance art, and pop".

The musical selections, all of them masterfully rendered in spite of the demands of non-traditional technique, were Machine by 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Higdon, Chaconnes by Yale composition professor Hannah Lash, Bound to the Bow by Interlochen alumna and SCI/ASCAP Young Composer Prize-winner Ashley Fure, and So Far So Good by Nico Muhly.

Muhly's So Far So Good also featured the world premiere of The Good So Far, a dance piece choreographed by Christopher Williams and ably performed by the Interlochen Arts Academy Dance Company. The technique and expressive power of the dancers was at a level beyond their years. They were also impeccably rehearsed so that the performance, even on the small strip of a stage afforded them in front of the orchestra, went flawlessly. A video of Williams working with the dancers is available here. Yet the rehearsal video doesn't give you the full experience of watching the dancers perform in the visually arresting costumes designed by Andrew Jordan to represent horned animal spirits as shaman characters who ultimately sacrifice one of their own for the good of all. Kudos to all of the dancers: The Shamans: Michaella Barron, Kasey Broekema, Ashima Fillbach, Cecily Lewelling; The Deposed Shaman, Austin Dabney; The Initiate, Jonatan Myhre-Jørgensen. Applause also to Joseph Morrissey, Director of Dance at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, for continuing the longstanding tradition of fine training for his young charges.

The New York Philharmonic Biennial continues through June 11th. Check out the offerings here.

Photo by Jen Luzzo

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