TRAVERSE CITY — Singing superstar Josh Groban will return to northern Michigan this summer backed by none other than the Traverse Symphony Orchestra.
The powerhouse vocalist and jazz great Harry Connick Jr. top the 2013 Summer Arts Festival A-list at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Other acts on the festival lineup include The Avett Brothers, ZZ Top, Garrison Keillor, Trace Adkins, Kris Kristofferson, Melissa Etheridge, Steve Miller Band, Brandi Carlile, Dwight Yoakum and original Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks with Wilson Phillips.
The festival, June 25-Aug. 17, features 30 major performances and a slew of student shows from dance and theater to film and visual arts.
“We try to offer a really diverse (series) to take advantage of the different people we get in the summer,” said Rory Baker, interim director of Interlochen Presents. “There’s no formula. You try to put together a season that offers something for everyone.”
Besides Groban, an Interlochen Arts Camp alum whose first five solo albums went multi-platinum, Baker said he’s most excited about Connick Jr. (July 16) and the indie folk-rock-pop group The Avett Brothers (July 1), both making their Interlochen debuts.
“I think people will be really surprised by The Avett Brothers,” he said of the up-and-coming North Carolina-based band featuring another Camp alum, cellist Joe Kwon. “They’re very high energy and they put on a fantastic show. They’re selling out venues wherever they go.”
Connick has sold more than 25 million records worldwide while earning 10 number one jazz albums — more than any other U.S. jazz artist. His talent and versatility also have won him three Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards and two Tony nominations.
Groban, known for hits like “You Raise Me Up” and “The Prayer,” requested to be backed by an Interlochen student orchestra if possible, Baker said. But the singer’s Aug. 12 show falls between Interlochen Arts Camp and Academy seasons, when student musicians are unavailable. So Interlochen turned to the Traverse Symphony Orchestra instead.
His lush orchestrations put playing with Groban “right at the very top” of the TSO’s most anticipated experiences, said Krista Cooper, the orchestra’s interim executive director. The last time the TSO collaborated on an Interlochen show was with trumpet player Doc Severinsen in 2004, she said.
“While we’ve played with big-name stars before, it’s been many years. And this is a current name, so we’re elated,” Cooper said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to have that exposure.”
Baker, who booked the Summer Arts Festival for the first time, said guest artists include several who reached out to Interlochen after appearing there in the past.
“They like Kresge, the fact that we’re right on the lake, and that Interlochen strives for real artist support,” he said. “Several of them like to take golf cart tours of campus and every now and then they’ll bring a student on stage. It’s one of those things that are organic. We try not to force it.”
Interlochen favorites Garrison Keillor and “A Prairie Home Companion” are among acts that have featured students in their Interlochen shows. But this summer the radio show cast returns in a nonbroadcast tour show called “Radio Romance.” The Aug. 6 event stars Keillor, former Nickel Creek singer-fiddler Sara Watkins, comedian Fred Newman and The Guy’s All-Star Band in a signature blend of duet singing, silly improv with sound effects, poetry, film noir and pulp fiction parody and, of course, News from Lake Wobegon.
Tickets for the summer festival go on sale April 19 starting at 9 a.m. Baker said online orders will be easier than before with a new and improved ticketing system.
“We switched over our box office software and we completely redesigned our website to make it a much better user experience. You no longer have to have a user name and password. You simply get online and order and it’s done,” he said.
To order, visit tickets.interlochen.org or call the box office at 276-7800 or 800-681-5920. Walk-up and fax sales (download the printable order form online or pick up an Interlochen brochure) also will be accepted.
Interlochen Summer Festival
• June 25: Brandi Carlile with the Lone Bellow, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• June 26: Shemekia Copeland, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• June 27-29, July 3, 5, 6: Interlochen Shakespeare Festival, "Hamlet," 8 p.m., Upton-Morley Pavilion
• June 29: Kevin Johnson, 7 p.m. Kresge Auditorium
• June 30: World Youth Symphony Orchestra with trombonists Jonathan Lombardo, Timothy Smith and Jeff Dee, Eric Ewazen's Triple Trombone Concerto, 8 p.m. Kresge Auditorium
• July 1: The Avett Brothers, 8 p.m. Kresge Auditorium
• July 5: Capitol Steps, 8 p.m., Corson Auditorium
• July 7: World Youth Symphony Orchestra with violinist Jennifer Koh, Prokofiev's "Violin Concert No. 2," 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 9: Interlochen "Collage," 7:30 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 10: Luna Negra Dance Theater, 8 p.m., Corson Auditorium
• July 11: Dwight Yoakam with The Railers, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 12: Kevin Cole With Sylvia McNair, 8 p.m., Corson Auditorium
• July 13: Turtle Island Quartet, 8 p.m., Corson Auditorium
• July 16: Harry Connick, Jr., 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 17: Steve Miller Band, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 18: Melissa Etheridge, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 23: Brian Wilson with Al Jardine, David Marks and Wilson Phillips, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• July 26, Trace Adkins, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• Aug. 1-4: High School Musical Theatre Co., "Oklahoma!", 7 p.m. Thurs., Fri. & Sat., 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Corson Auditorium
• Aug. 6: Garrison Keillor's "A Praire Home Companion - Radio Romance" Tour, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• Aug. 8: ZZ Top, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• Aug. 9: Kris Kristofferson, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• Aug. 12: Josh Groban with the Traverse Symphony Orchestra, 8 p.m., Kresge Auditorium
• Aug. 12, 14, 17: Enso String Quartet, 8 p.m., Corson Auditorium