DSO cellist Paul Wingert's first memory of Interlochen is a decidedly Michigan one: hunting for Petoskey Stones, the gray fossil-etched rocks found in the Traverse City area of the state, when he was five years old. "I went with my mom who was attending an adult post-camp session. She was a bassist and an elementary school teacher who attended Interlochen as a camper herself in 1948 and 1949."
Paul would later attend as a high schooler for the 1973-75 camp seasons: "Attending Interlochen confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in music. It's such an immersive atmosphere that's competitive and requires a high level of professionalism; I learned twenty-four major works in three summers. And you're able to learn technique from a diverse peer group: I remember sharing a stand with a kid from Germany, and actually shared a stand with my future wife."
As a DSO musician in the early 1990s, Paul returned to teach and encountered tenth grader Úna O'Riordan in his cello masterclass. "I played the Dvořák Cello Concerto for Paul in the McWhorter Shed, and it was nerve-racking!" says Úna.
"I remember this magazine photo shoot with Paul in the field *(at right / above on mobile)! The photographer had us pose there because it was more picturesque, and my 16-year-old mind was like 'but we didn’t play in the field!'"
During her summers at Interlochen, Úna was also able to work and perform with DSO Music Director Emeritus, Neeme Järvi, and soloists Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, and she still has the cassette tapes recorded of the performances: "I'm not sure I even have a player to play them on," Úna laughs, "I was in awe of then-DSO Concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert, who I had a great view of from my orchestra seat for the DSO-World Youth Orchestra side-by-side."
Those who have attended Interlochen themselves unreservedly recommend the experience to others. It was Paul Wingert who introduced Interlochen to 18-year-old Jane Hepp, a 2019 graduate of Novi High School, and former student, who attended the Cello Institute in 2017.
"It makes a lot of sense for the DSO to go back to Interlochen," says Jane. "They have a symbiotic relationship because of the long history between them. Paul is close friends with many of the professors there."
Artistic excellence is another unifying theme between the two organizations. Jane's been thinking back over her school years and the instructors who taught her—coaches and teachers alike—and Paul easily rises to the top. "Paul is a really good teacher, and an amazing player. He is super-efficient: he notices the smallest details that need to be tweaked, and when you make the change, your playing is much stronger. Some people aren’t able to hear or see those small details, but he does."
Left / above on mobile: Jane Hepp performs at the 2019 Wu Family Academy Spring Concert in Orchestra Hall as part of the DSO's Civic Youth Ensembles program
Created with images by Alex Iby - "untitled image" • Geran de Klerk - "untitled image"