City High Student Earned Prestigious Interlochen Orchestra Scholarship

Adam Zeithamel ‘23 Reflects On His Experience At the Renowned Summer Program


Zeithamel spent part of his summer at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp

Tai Caputo

Adam Zeithamel ’23, a member of the City High Symphony Orchestra, earned a scholarship at the internationally renowned summer festival, Interlochen Arts Camp, this past summer. The Interlochen Orchestra Scholars Program provides full tuition in a six-week intensive orchestral program. Scholars are chosen based on their audition videos and musical experience. 

Located in Interlochen, Michigan, Interlochen Arts Camp was founded in 1928 for talented high school string orchestra musicians. It has since expanded into a multi-disciplinary arts camp, including dance, theater, and creative writing, but it is still best known for its classical music. It boasts the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, a prestigious ensemble for high school musicians from around the world.  

Zeithamel, a cellist and senior, who spent six weeks at the camp, appreciated the opportunity to be in an environment with other serious musicians. 

“I learned a lot about what it is like to be a professional musician, because the camp was so intensive,” Zeithamel said. “I was playing typically between six and eight hours a day. I really got a feel for what the professional world is like, such as having four to five hours of orchestra rehearsal every day, and trying to fit practice on top of that. It was just some insight into what being a professional musician looks like.”

Zeithamel was inspired by the level of commitment and ability at Interlochen. 

“It was great to get to work with so many incredible cellists,” Zeithamel said. “[There were] a lot of very passionate people there that cared a whole lot, and that made it easier for me to keep interest. Even when you’re feeling tired, when you have people around you that are so invested and so excited about it, it makes it so much easier for you to keep up the work.”

The World Youth Symphony Orchestra requires two auditions during the total six weeks. Judges at the audition rank students according to instrument. Zeithamel was the principal cellist for three out of the five weeks that he was eligible.  

At the end of every week, there was a concert. The orchestra performed a total of six full-length concerts with professional repertoire, including Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony, and Bartok’s Orchestra Concerto.

“Even though it was a ton of work, it was also just so much fun,” Zeithamel said. “You worked really hard, but you saw the results, and you got to play great music and work with people who think just like you do, and feel the same way about music as you do.”

The living situation was another story. Students lived in real cabins with no heating or air conditioning. Interlochen, Michigan, is located near Interlochen State Park on the sandy shores of Green Lake and Duck Lake. 

“There was sand everywhere,” Zeithamel said. “No matter how hard you tried, there was sand in your bed, and there was sand in your shoes, and all over. I’d open my cello case, and some sand would come off. It was awful. But the one good part about the cabins is that you get really close with your cabin mates. Literally, but also emotionally, because you live with them for six weeks, and you’re all packed in a room, and I had a super fun cabin. We had a really great time.”

Zeithamel earned first place in the Ottumwa String Competition last year and performed a solo with the Ottumwa Symphony Orchestra. He studies with Laura Shaw at the Preucil School of Music. 

“We’re very lucky in Iowa City to have kind of the musical environment we do, which a lot of the Midwest, especially, just doesn’t have,” Zeithamel said.

Zeithamel plans to pursue a degree in music and is currently applying for college. 

“I’m in the process right now of auditioning for music schools which entails not only the true college application, but I also have to prepare music and record it,” Zeithamel said. “So ideally I’m hoping to get into a kind of mid-sized conservatory or a university with an excellent music program.”

Zeithamel was grateful for the opportunity and gave his experience a glowing review. 

“It was a fantastic experience.”