Two Shaker High School students recently performed with the All-National Chorus in Dallas, Texas, Julia McGaugh and Michael Woods. In addition, one of the chorus pieces had a lengthy solo for tenor. Of the 350 students in the All-National Chorus, Mike Woods was chosen as one of the three finalists for the solo. He auditioned in front of the choir and was selected as the featured soloist.
“Mike singing the solo with the chorus was something indescribable,” said Deborah Keough, North Colonie’s District Music Supervisor. “Watching him perform on the stage in Dallas brought tears streaming down his parents’ and teachers’ faces.”
Keough says each state auditions its students to choose their All-State organizations, and from that pool of students, the national NAfME office selects the All-National ensemble by recorded auditions. The final step is for the students of the All-National Chorus to audition for the solo.
“It seems reasonable that Mike could be called the best high school tenor in the country,” said Keough.
“It was hard to believe then and it’s hard to believe now,” said Woods. “It was an honor just to be chosen to go.”
Keough says what is most remarkable, is Woods never took private lessons. She calls him a product of public schools.
“He reached the very pinnacle of success in his high school musicianship through his own talents and studies, and the exceptional dedication and work of public school music teachers.”
Woods says he would like to thank his junior high and high school chorus teachers, Dimitri Vasilakis, Erin Slater-Suzuki, Tyler Thomas, Amy Kimbler, and Karen Amedio, for their outstanding guidance and support.
“I worked with Mrs. Amedio throughout high school,” he said. “Since I want to go into music education, I learned a lot from her by watching how she teaches. She picked music that suited my voice, knew where I needed to work, and did her best to get me to the level I am at now.”
Woods is a member of high school select groups including Syncopella, Shaker Select, the Resolving Suspenders. In addition, he participates in the high school’s spring musical each year. Woods aspires to have a career in music education, and hopes to attend the Crane School of Music in the fall of 2017.