Splendid in Seattle: Woodlands Academy musicians
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart participants brought home best music department honors along with several other top awards from the recent WorldStrides OnStage Heritage Festival in Seattle, Washington.
Based on its overall performance during this competition, the all-girls college-preparatory day-and-boarding high school won the coveted Sweepstakes for Total Program trophy. It's the third time in the last five years that Woodlands Academy has won this top award at a WorldStrides event by achieving the highest average of all the attending schools based on the combined scores of its two participating choirs and orchestra. The Lake Forest school was the smallest of 19 from six states and two Canadian provinces that sent a total of 800 vocal and instrumental students to the Seattle competition.
Among its other top honors, Woodlands Academy won two additional trophies at the April 21-23 event:
• Sweepstakes Award for Choral Program -- based on the combined score of its two participating vocal groups.
• Outstanding Choral Group -- won by Microscope, the school's student-led chamber choir.
An integral part of Woodlands' music program for nearly 30 years received very special recognition from organizers of the Seattle festival. In what they describe as an unprecedented presentation to a non-student participant, Choirs Director Elizabeth Kurowski was given a Maestro award in recognition of her commitment to excellence in choral music based on a 20-year record of bringing outstanding student groups to WorldStride festivals nationwide. The Kaleidoscope choir, directed by Kurowski, won a Gold award for its performance in the Women's Choir division at Seattle.
In addition to Kurowski, two Woodlands Academy students received Maestro awards in recognition of outstanding individual achievements. Senior Destiny Salazar was honored for directing the Microscope choir to a Gold award finish as well as her solo performance in one of the songs. Microscope's performance received accolades from one of the judges during a subsequent workshop session. Dr. Paul Schultz, who directs the Northwest Repertory Singers, began the session by saying, "Simply stunning, girls. You moved me to tears."
Junior cellist Paige Bartusiak was awarded a Maestro for her contributions to the Woodlands Academy Symphonic Orchestra, which received a Silver award at the Seattle festival.
By winning Gold awards, both of Woodlands' participating choirs received an invitation to the National Invitational Festival of Gold/Youth Choir Festival held annually at Carnegie Hall.
The community will have the opportunity to hear the musical selections performed in Seattle -- plus others -- when the choirs and orchestra perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18, during Woodlands Academy's annual Fine Arts Evening.
WorldStrides OnStage Heritage Festivals provide opportunities for middle and high school musicians to visit one of more than 25 cities in the U.S. and abroad, perform for nationally acclaimed adjudicators, and learn from the feedback they receive.
Founded in 1858, Woodlands Academy is an independent Catholic college preparatory day and boarding high school for young women. It's part of a worldwide network of Sacred Heart Schools that spans the United States and 40 other countries. A nonprofit, Woodlands 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. For more information about Woodlands Academy, please visit www.woodlandsacademy.org