From Interlochen's archives: Frederick Fennell's first summer conducting at camp
In 1940, Fennell took up the baton for the first time at Interlochen's National Music Camp.
As a teenager, Frederick Fennell played the bass drum in the band when John Philip Sousa conducted at Interlochen's National Music Camp.
Fennell would go on to become one of the most important band conductors in history, perhaps second only to Sousa himself.
On June 30, 1940, Fennell conducted the High School Band at Interlochen in concert for the very first time.
He would conduct bands and orchestras at Interlochen Arts Academy and Camp for the next seven decades, until his death in 2004.
The program from this very first concert he conducted is reproduced below.
Some of the music from Fennell's first conducting appearance in 1930 has been preserved on 16-inch transcription disks. In 2019, Interlochen Center for the Arts digitized approximately six hundred of these transcription disks.
The entire concert was not preserved, likely because it was not broadcast on the radio and therefore not recorded.
According to the labels on the transcription disks themselves, the preserved audio is from a band rehearsal, not from the concert performance.
These transcription disks were recently digitized for preservation thanks to the generous support of the Hamer D. and Phyllis C. Shafer Foundation.
Interlochen Center for the Arts' recording engineer Michael Culler remastered the digitized archival recordings heard here.
For the rest of Fennell's career, he would be one of the leading figures in concert band music around the world.
In 1952, he founded the Eastman Wind Ensemble, which quickly became one of the world's leading symphonic wind bands
During his career, Fennell also conducted the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and the Dallas Wind Symphony.
He commissioned new pieces from composers including Percy Grainger, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Vincent Persichetti.
In 2006, Interlochen Center for the Arts named its music library in memory of Fennell and his wife, Elizabeth.