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PPP Helps Rediscover The Man Behind Interlochen

September 26, 2013

Even if you’re not from Michigan,  you probably know about Interlochen.

Joe Maddy and Michigan Governor George Romney c. 1962

Joe Maddy and Michigan Governor George Romney c. 1963-1966

Norah Jones, Ed Helms. Josh Groban. Lorin Maazel. Jessye Norman. Rufus Wainwright. Peter Yarrow.

These important cultural figures – along with more than 70,000 other alumni – have attended either the Interlochen Arts Camp or Interlochen Arts Academy in northern Michigan. Situated on 1,200 acres of lakefront land about 15 miles from Traverse City, the Interlochen Center for the Arts (the umbrella term for all of its offerings) has been educating musicians, actors and other artists for decades.

This summer, we at Priceless Photo Preservation had the opportunity to help the institution rediscover and preserve a vital part of its history: Namely, a series of nearly 50-year-old 16mm films that we digitized and preserved for the academy.

With Interlochen’s kind permission, we are showing you perhaps the most important film in this collection: “Just Call Me Joe,” a 26-minute documentary from 1966.

Featuring an introduction from the renown conductor Eugene Ormandy, the color film includes conversations and candid moments with Interlochen founder Joseph E. Maddy in the summer before his death at age 74 in 1966.

A well-known music educator, Maddy founded what was originally called the National High School Orchestra and Band Camp in 1927 after several years in Ann Arbor, where he was supervisor of music in the city’s public school system  and headed the University of Michigan’s Music Department.  The camp was established after Maddy was asked to organize and conduct a National High School Orchestra – first in Detroit in 1926, the second at a conference in Dallas 1927. The success of these endeavors encouraged Maddy to pursue an idea he had proposed previously: That talented young musicians needed to spend several weeks an isolated and peaceful place where they could receive intensive musical education and further develop their craft alongside their peers.

About ten years into its existence, Interlochen broadened its curriculum to include instruction in drama  and other fine arts. In 1962, the Interlochen Arts Academy was formed, becoming the nation’s first independent boarding school in the arts.

As the film makes clear, Maddy’s  passion for educating talented kids is the reason why Interlochen exists today – and why many music teachers emulate the teaching methods pioneered by Maddy and Interlochen.

Please note that to meet YouTube standards and ensure smooth streaming, we scaled down the movie from the HD conversion that we produced for Interlochen’s library. It also does not include some enhancements we later made to the audio to make it sound crisper. However, we think it remains a high-quality piece of history that deserves to be seen and preserved.

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