From the boxing ring to the stage, Morton Achter grew up at Interlochen

Jun 30, 2020

Morton Achter in the summer of 1954
Credit Interlochen Center for the Arts

After Mort Achter won a boxing competition at a sports camp in the summer of 1947, his parents were worried.

They told him he'd have to go to music camp at Interlochen the next summer. If he didn't like it, he could return to sports camp the following year.

Starting in 1948, Achter would spend every summer for over a decade at Interlochen's National Music Camp.

He played piano, trombone and every kind of clarinet. He also got into theater, studying with some of Interlochen's greats including Jim Harvey and Dude Stephenson

Plus, he recalls, at Interlochen, the girls far outnumbered the boys and the concerts outnumbered the free hours in the day. Sports camp paled in comparison.

Achter's boxing career never went anywhere, much to his parents' relief.

Morton Achter

And although he enrolled at M.I.T. to study chemical engineering, Achter soon transferred to the University of Michigan and changed his major to music. 

His parents weren't suprised.

After earning a Ph.D. in musicology, Achter chaired the music department at Otterbein University for a quarter of a century. He has also directed dozens of plays, musicals and operas.

In a recent conversation with Classical IPR, Achter reflected on his time at Interlochen and how it shaped his personal and professional career. 

Listen to the entire conversation below.

A program from one of the first shows Morton Achter directed at Otterbein University (1975)
Credit Otterbein University archives

Thanks to Eileen Ganter, Cathy Dodge-Miller and Carolyn Purcell.