Two Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart choral groups earned gold in the WorldStrides Heritage spring festival in Philadelphia April 19-20.
Kaleidoscope, a 38-member choir under the direction of Elizabeth Kurowski, and Microscope, a 10-member group under the direction of senior Jeong Lim Kim, both got top awards.
Kim, a Long Grove resident, also was given the prestigious Music Maestro award which judges bestowed to only about 10 out of nearly 2,000 students participating in the festival. There were eight schools in the national competition.
"Judges are extremely impressed that we have a student conductor, which is a huge responsibility," said Choral Director Kurowski. "This is an enormous honor."
She added, "The journey to get to the competition is worth more than the actual competition. The students work so hard and are anxious to see the outcome and how they compare." Kurowski explained that it is important for students to have a competitive atmosphere and to be critiqued by someone besides her.
One judge wrote that the Woodlands students have "beautiful stage presence, good connection with the audience, and lovely, healthy vocals."
Coincidentally, Kurowski and her students ran into a colleague, Rollo Dilworth, at the airport before the competition. Dilworth wrote "Make A Joyful Noise," a song Kaleidoscope performed at the festival. Dilworth spent time with the students and posed for photographs.
Based on its top-notch performance, Microscope is invited to the 2014-15 National Youth Choir Festival at Carnegie Hall next spring.
This is the 19th year Kurowski, a Mundelein resident, has traveled with the Woodlands Academy choral groups. During the four-day trip when they weren't competing, students visited Independence Hall, took a walking tour of historic sites and enjoyed performing for another Sacred Heart school, Marple Newtown Senior High, in Newtown Square, Pa.
The community is invited to hear both Kaleidoscope and Microscope perform all of their competition songs during Fine Arts Evening May 15. The choral groups perform beginning at 7 p.m.; the evening also will feature student drawing, printmaking, painting, ceramics and photography. The free event will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. that Wednesday at Woodlands Academy, 760 E. Westleigh Road, Lake Forest.
Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent, Catholic college preparatory day and boarding school for young women, and part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans 21 cities in the United States and 44 countries around the world. Woodland Academy's identity is rooted in Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat's desire to inspire young hearts and minds to excel, to lead lives of integrity and to serve. The nonprofit school is located at 760 E. Westleigh Road, Lake Forest. For more information call 847 234-4300 or visit www.woodlandsacademy.org