Interlochen is welcoming old friends and new back this summer for its annual summer arts festival, which will feature Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, and Bonnie Raitt.
Another favorite is preeminent banjo player Bela Fleck. Fleck has performed with a wide range of musicians, from contemporary bluegrass pioneers New Grass Revival to jazz pianist Chick Corea. He’s touring with Corea through the end of this month before heading out on dates with fellow banjoist Abigail Washburn.
That restless musical spirit has served him well, he said.
“I thought it was the musician’s job to always search for new sounds and opportunities for growth,” he said. “I grew up musically in the 1960’s when all my favorite musicians seemed to constantly be expanding.”
Fleck has appeared at Interlochen previously with such peers as bassist Edgar Meyer as well as his group the Flecktones. The latter is currently on hiatus, and this time around he’ll be paired with Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet who played on his latest album, “The Impostor.”
“We have vague plans to reconvene in the next couple of years,” he said about the Flecktones, which includes bassist Victor Wooten and percussionist Future Man. Most recently the fourth spot was filled by original member Howard Levy on keyboards and harmonica.
“Everyone is busy with their own music right now,” he said, “but we should be able to saddle up together for another big ride before too long.”
Fleck said that Brooklyn Rider is one of the most interesting string quartets on the scene today.
“I love this group, and we’ve developed a very sweet show together,” he said. “It’s a combination of pieces I’ve written to play with the group, some arrangements of my own older material from New Grass Revival and Flecktones, and their music, some of which I have learned as well.”
Another familiar face coming back to Interlochen is actually a quartet of familiar faces. The Enso String Quartet will once again serve as artists-in-residence in August, a role they’ve filled for the better part of a decade.
Cellist Richard Belcher says the group enjoys the opportunity to work with the string enthusiasts at the Adult Chamber Music Camp.
“The campers – I guess you can call them campers – have the best attitude,” he said. “It’s just wonderful. They love the music and the other participants. They just want to make music.”
As do Belcher and his colleagues, violinists Maureen Nelson and John Marcus and viola player Melissa Reardon. The group came together at Yale University in 1999 and has since performed across the globe, earning accolades and awards, including top prizes at the Concert Artists Guild competition and the Banff International String Quartet Competition.
Belcher says the group, which will perform three shows at Interlochen, remains committed to the string quartet repertoire. That includes not only favorites by the likes of Bach, Beethoven, Dvorak and Mozart, but newer music by the likes of Dame Gillian Whitehead from Belcher’s homeland of New Zealand and American composer Kurt Stallmann.
“Some of our programs are pretty conservative, and others are more experimental,” he said.
Growing up, Belcher was greatly influenced by the performers he saw onstage.
“Back home in New Zealand, I remember thinking how cool it would be to be on that stage,” he said. “I did it a couple years ago, and it was a real marker point for me.”
In addition to working with the campers, Enso String Quartet will perform concerts on Aug. 11, 13 and 16.
In all, more than 30 guest artists will perform at Interlochen, along with countless concerts by campers and instructors throughout the summer.
THE COMPLETE SCHEDULE IS AS FOLLOWS:
• Sheryl Crow with special guest Mandy Alexander June 13
• Gordon Lightfoot June 18
• Lynyrd Skynyrd June 19
• Betty Who June 23
• US Air Force Band – Airmen of Note June 25 (Interlochen Bowl – free)
• Rioult Dance June 26
• Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” June 26-28 & July 2, 3 & 5
• Tigran Hamasyan June 27
• World Youth Symphony Orchestra June 29
• Bonnie Raitt with special guest Paul Cebar June 30
• Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider July 1
• The Capitol Steps July 5
• Alessio Bax, World Youth Symphony Orchestra July 6
• Interlochen “Collage” July 8
• Nickel Creek July 10
• Darius Rucker July 11
• Jackson Browne July 12
• Michael Cooper: Masked Marvels & Wondertales July 13
• Joshua Bell, World Youth Symphony Orchestra July 13
• Broadway’s Next H!t Musical July 14
• Willie Nelson & Family and Alison Krauss & Union Station with Jason Isbell July 17
• Cavani String Quartet July 19
• Five for Fighting July 19
• John Axelrod, World Youth Symphony Orchestra July 20
• Ray Lamontagne with the Belle Brigade and Jenny Lewis July 22
• Gary Allan July 25
• Ani Kavafian, World Youth Symphony Orchestra July 27
• “Les Miserables” Interlochen High School Musical Theatre Co. July 31–Aug. 3
• Buddy Guy with Robert Randolph and the Family Band Aug. 5
• Enso String Quartet Aug. 11, 13 & 16 • Steely Dan Aug. 20
Tickets for the Interlochen Summer Concert Series go on sale at 9am on Fri., April 18. Get tickets online at tickets.interlochen.org. Interlochen Summer Arts Festival 2014 On Sale: 9 a.m. Fri., April 18 Tickets: Kresge Auditorium shows range from $25.50 to $43.50 for most bronze seats, $40.50-$55.50 for most gold seats; Corson Auditorium tickets typically range from $20.50 to $30.50. Call: Interlochen box office at 800-681-5920 More info: tickets.interlochen.org