November 8, 2021 Achiever Stories

Achievement Story: Michael, Senior, East High School

Michael Widajada EHS 2
East High School senior Michael Widjaja is only one of six high school trumpeters across the country to earn the right to perform with the prestigious All-National Honor Ensemble.

Sioux City, Iowa – When a jazz musician says he’s “in the woodshed,” it means he is sequestering himself, digging deeper into the music.

Michael Widjaja, 17, said worrying about his dad’s coronary bypass surgery in addition to the sudden interruption of school due to COVID-19 concerns forced him into serious “woodshedding” mode.

“I had a part-time job at Chick-fil-A, but all of my school extracurricular activities were canceled due to the pandemic,” the East High School student senior explained. “Because of that, I had nothing to do but practice, playing my trumpet.”

Apparently, all that practicing paid off.

First, Widjaja was selected to be a part of the Iowa High School Music Association’s All-State Music Festival. Then he was accepted to play as part of the All-National Honor Ensemble with the National Association for Music Education’s All-National Symphony Orchestra.

Widjaja will be one of just six trumpet players from across the United States to have the honor of playing with the All-National Honor Ensemble during a virtual event, taking place Jan. 22-24, 2022.

“I auditioned for it even though I had really low expectations,” he said. “Instead, I thought auditioning would make me a better musician and a better person.”

Widjaja admitted being stunned at the news he made it all the way to a national symphony orchestra.

“I still can’t believe that one of the six trumpeters in the entire United States chosen came from ‘little’ Sioux City, and that the trumpeter turned out to be me,” he said with a big grin. “It just goes to show if you’re willing to work hard, you will be rewarded.”

Read more about Michael’s inspiring story by Sioux City Journal Earl Horlyk.