BUCKHANNON — A local student is still beaming with excitement after receiving his acceptance letter to attend the Interlochen Arts Academy (IAA).
Camden Wentz, age 17, sat down with his mom, Lorna Wentz, on Wednesday evening to tell The Record Delta about his amazing accomplishment. Wentz, a junior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, applied to the IAA in March of 2021 and just recently received his acceptance letter. Wentz is currently a cellist of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra. “In a normal year, we travel two and a half hours every Sunday afternoon in order to be able to rehearse on Heinz Hall stage,” explained Wentz. When Wentz isn’t performing or practicing, he enjoys all things math and science.
IAA draws young people from around the world to study music, theater, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and comparative arts. Interlochen Center for the Arts (ICA) is the umbrella organization for Interlochen Arts Camp, formerly the National Music Camp that was founded 1928, Interlochen Arts Academy boarding high school, founded in 1962, Interlochen Public Radio, founded in 1963, and the Interlochen Presents performing arts series.
Wentz said he started playing violin in the sixth grade and transitioned to the cello when he saw a need in the school orchestra. His love for the cello reportedly blossomed from there. Wentz previously auditioned for the IAA summer program and when given the opportunity to apply for their boarding program, an application was submitted just shy of the cutoff date. Upon completion of paperwork, Wentz plans to attend his senior year and graduate from IAA.
“We are amazed, astounded, and so proud that he’s accomplished so much in a short amount of time,” his mother said. “He always has music playing.” Wentz chose the orchestra path based on a clip from the famous movie Titanic. He plans to pursue music into a higher level after graduation. Plans to move into the conservatory level and the introduction to many high-profile arts contacts are exactly what Camden needs to get him to where he sees himself in 10 years—in New York.
“It seems like there is some sort of barrier you cross. You go from just playing music for fun to investing so much time and effort into it. You become part of that piece,” Wentz explained.
The musical prodigy also founded and conducts the Upshur County Youth Symphony, where students from six different counties in West Virginia are represented. “I founded the Upshur County Youth Symphony to promote classical music in my community because it is gradually dying away around here,” said Wentz.
The Interlochen Arts Academy is the highest profile pre-professional arts boarding high school worldwide and was founded in 1962 by Joseph E. Maddy. As of 2019, there were 350 faculty and staff, and approximately 550 students, from freshman to post-graduates.
Interlochen has offered an immersive arts experience since 1982. The program is offered to students in grades 3-12. It is also offered to adults who wish to further expand their knowledge of the arts. ICA is meant to help foster a deeper love and understanding of the arts, discovered only through a deep, shared appreciation. Generations of artists and arts enthusiasts have experienced the special magic that happens on Interlochen’s beautiful campus in northwest Michigan and Wentz is certainly eager to join their ranks.