Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

When Joseph Morrissey took the position of Director of Dance at Interlochen Arts Academy earlier this year, one of the shows he was most excited about producing was The Nutcracker.

“One of the first things I asked about is, ‘Do you have a Nutcracker?’ And they said, ‘Not only do we have a Nutcracker, but we’re building a brand new set.’”

Morrissey has high ambitions for this classic, and wants to make sure it appeals to a variety of audiences. He says there are a lot of different elements—  romance, comedy, and some suspense. 

“Especially with the mice,” says Morrissey. “They are supposed to be scary— they are the conflict of the story. But we also have to keep in mind this is a holiday production. So, there is a lot of comedy as well,” he says. 


The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's acting principal clarinetist takes the stage at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

John Bruce Yeh is a 39-year veteran of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a founding member of the New York New Music Ensemble, a Grammy winner and more. A native of Los Angeles, he began studying the clarinet at age 6 and spent two years at Juilliard, from 1975 to 1977, before leaving to assume the role of solo bass clarinetist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra., and, two years later, assistant principal and solo E-flat clarinet. 

The Medal of Honor is the United States highest military honor.

It’s awarded to soldiers for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Shattuck family

This is a story about love and family. 

Trisha Shattuck is transgender. Her spouse, Marcia, chose to stay with her as Trisha transitioned from a masculine to more feminine presentation. But the transition was a challenge for Trisha’s family. Their story is captured in a recent documentary, "From This Day Forward," the making of which helped the family talk more openly with each other. 


Morgan Springer

The Au Sable Canoe Marathon is both grueling and addictive.  Canoe teams paddle 120 miles from Grayling to Oscoda on Lake Huron. That's close to halfway across Northern Michigan. They paddle 14 to 19 hours through the night and into the next day. The goal for many is simply to finish, and they attack that goal with a stubbornness that sometimes borders on dangerous. 

The marathon is this weekend beginning at 9pm on July 25th.

Morgan Springer


Behind the bright colors and dizzying rides at the National Cherry Festival is a group of people who work long hours and love their jobs. Carnies are a community, and Matt Cunningham says they wear the carny title proudly.

"I love being a carny, you know," says Cunningham. "It’s a lifestyle. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle."

The carnival at the Cherry Festival looks like a Kodachrome picture - bright primary colors and signs with old fonts. It has that classic fried food smell, and children on rides are squealing the requisite amount.

The Promise is a dramatic retelling of Christ's life, death, and resurrection.
New Hope Community Church

New Hope Community Church in Williamsburg, is a large church, but not a mega church. Yet, over a period of four days last year, 6,000 people crammed into the building to view The Promise, a dramatic Broadway-styled retelling of the Easter story. 

This year marks the 18th year of the show. 

Take one step into the dress rehearsal and you realize this isn’t your average church production. Viewers quickly find themselves immersed in culture 2,000 years old complete with authentic looking Roman soldiers and Hebrew priests. 

Lundy steps down as History Center director

Apr 1, 2015

The Traverse City History Center is looking for a new executive director, following the resignation of Maddie Lundy. Lundy left last week after serving the center for the last three years. Her departure comes at a time of change for the center, which recently signed a lease to stay in the city-owned Carnegie Library building.

Board Chairman Bruce Wiegand says the center no longer plans to run a museum in the Carnegie building.

David Cassleman

Children with autism often have trouble speaking – and some never learn to talk. So that means other ways of communication are key for many with an autism spectrum disorder.

“Body language, gestures, pictures” – they are all options according to Christian Denice. He’s a dance choreographer from California debuting a completely original piece at the Interlochen Center for the Arts this weekend.

It’s a piece inspired by the work his mother does with autistic children in California, and he's dedicating the performances to one young woman in particular.

Aaron Selbig

An up-and-coming bluegrass musician from Traverse City is about to hit the big stage. Nik Carman will be joining the Accidentals Wednesday night to open up for Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

It’s a big step for nine-year-old Carman, who’s been performing in coffee shops for only a year or so.

Carman is one of those musicians who can pretty much do it all. He can strum a banjo, pick a mandolin, play a guitar and sing his heart out.

Traverse City named among top 20 'vibrant' arts cities

Feb 5, 2015

Traverse City is one of the nation’s most vibrant arts communities, according to new research from Southern Methodist University.

The study ranked the northern Michigan community as number 20 in the nation among small and mid-sized cities.

Gene Jenneman, Dennos Museum

Last night, the Traverse City Commission introduced a new policy on how the city seeks out pieces of public art.

Public art has been a touchy subject in Traverse City for years. In 2008, public outcry derailed plans to put a modern art sculpture called Time Myth on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay. Time Myth is a 30-foot-tall, angular, white sculpture that’s been displayed in a courtyard at the K-Mart headquarters in Troy.

The public conversation about Time Myth quickly deteriorated and the idea was scrapped.

U-W Madison School of Music

A good meal can become a great meal if the restaurant has the right ambiance. That’s what chefs say at least. Good music, for example, can improve the experience of eating.

But what about the other way around? Can good food improve the experience of listening to good music?

An Interlochen conductor and a chef are teaming up in Traverse City to find out.

A Zombie Apocalypse In Northern Michigan

May 21, 2014

There are all kinds of zombie movies – from zom-coms (or zombie comedies) to stark dramas like TV’s “The Walking Dead.” Now, there’s one being made about zombies in the frozen landscape of Northern Michigan. Director David Marek already has three zombie films to his credit. These are 1 to 2-minute shorts made to promote Traverse City’s annual Zombie Run.

Marek says, “And we were kind of amazed by the support we had and so we had the idea, ‘Why don’t we do a short film?’”

That short film became “Thaw of the Dead” which features zombies in the cold Northern Michigan winter.

The Way Back To Interlochen

May 15, 2014

It’s not unusual for students of Interlochen to come back in the roles of professional, adult artists. Two of these returning students have been working on the Interlochen Dance Company’s current production of “Peter and the Wolf.” And IPR recently caught up with them. 

The Art Of Anatomy

May 14, 2014

The organs of the body become the stuff of art in the hands of Madison Brownson. Madison is a senior in Interlochen's Visual Arts Program. Her work can be seen in an exhibition in Interlochen's Dow Center for Visual Arts. Last month, she became a Portfolio Gold Medalist in the 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Madison says some anatomical artwork can be a little off-putting.   

A New Take On Some Old Songs

May 7, 2014

Folklorist Alan Lomax visited Traverse City in 1938 and recorded many folk songs about the land and its people. Now, a group of Northern Michigan middle and high school students have written their own songs based on the Lomax recordings. Students will perform these songs in a concert called “The Quest” on Friday night at 7:30 at the City Opera House. The project’s director Seth Bernard says the students come from all over Northern Michigan. 


Dark Sky Park: Buddha Moon

May 7, 2014

In the Eastern tradition of Buddhism, the Full Moon in May is called Vesak, and is celebrated as the time that marks the birth, enlightenment and death of the Gautama Buddha. Informally referred to as “Buddha’s Birthday”, this Full Moon arrives on May 14th this year, at exactly 3:16 pm.  The celebration of Buddha’s Birthday is called Vesak after the name of the month in which it falls in the Indian calendar. 

Frankfort Artist Wins ArtPrize

Oct 5, 2013

Ann Loveless of Frankfort has taken the art world's largest cash prize for her 20-foot-long quilt depicting "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore." She collects the $200,000 top prize in the annual ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids. The top prize is determined by public vote.

The quilt, in four panels, uses mainly cotton and batik fabrics to depict a Lake Michigan sunset amidst birch trees and dune shoreline.