Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

August 23, 2013

Mich. native takes over Interlochen Presents

TRAVERSE CITY — Christopher Gruits looked surprisingly at home as he sat in a shadowy Corson Auditorium during the lull between summer camp and high school programs at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

The new executive director of Interlochen Presents is no stranger to either auditoriums or arts programming, having come from Carnegie Hall, where originally he worked as artistic projects manager. At Interlochen, he’ll oversee the year-round performance program that features hundreds of student, faculty and guest presentations.

Gruits said he was lured to Interlochen by its boundless programming opportunities and by its unusual position in the top tier of arts presenters despite its location away from a major population center.

”It’s this really unique place: an entire arts center with eight venues and a radio station,” he said. “It represents a really unique opportunity for programming. It’s cross-disciplinary, so you have this opportunity to work across all these disciplines, you have great resources in the faculty, you have a lot of different venues and you have a broadcast mechanism. It’s a world class environment, and the sky’s the limit to what you can do.”

Gruits grew up in the Detroit suburbs and vacationed at the family’s Higgins Lake cabin in Roscommon County. He has a bachelor’s degree in humanities with a concentration in arts management and a master’s degree in business administration strategy, from Michigan State University and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is married to mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle. The couple lives with their son, Brendan, on the Interlochen campus.

Bragle recently made her debut at The BBC Proms, a prestigious summer classical music festival in London.

Expanding the role of classical programming across Interlochen’s educational programs will be a primary focus for Gruits. The arts center was founded on the classical music tradition but has moved away slightly from classical programming in recent years as it has expanded to present a mix in musical genres.

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