May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may the God that loves us all hold you in the palm of his hand. Amen.
Michael Ehrlich, Chairman of W.T. Woodson High School's Performing Arts Department, began teaching here in 1988 with 35 students in the choral program. Now in its 29th year, the roster has swelled to nearly 350 singers. At any given time, he teaches, directs, cajoles, and mentors at least six ensembles.
Throughout his career, Mr. Ehrlich has served as guest director for several all-county and district events, as well as adjudicator for various choral festivals. He has hosted countless district chorus, district auditions, all-state auditions, all-state chorus, and festival events. In September 2008, Mr. Ehrlich will assume full duties as president of the Virginia Music Educators Association (VMEA), for which he has been serving as president-elect since being chosen by his peers in 2005. As president, he will be the state representative to the National Association of Music Educators' Music Educators National Conference (MENC). His other active memberships include the American Choral Directors Association, and the Fairfax County Choral Directors Association, of which he is a past president. He recently finished serving two years as president of the Virginia Choral Directors Association (VCDA) and two years as vice president. He served as District XI choral representative from 1997 to 1999, and as overall district chair from 1999 to 2001. In 1993 and 2003 at the Fiesta-val National Music Festival in Atlanta, he received the Outstanding Directors Award for outstanding achievement in choral music. He also spent time as a director for American Music Abroad Summer Music Tours.
Mr. Ehrlich was born and raised in East Stroudsburg, PA. While a student at East Stroudsburg High School, he was an active member of the band and choral programs. Upon graduation in 1974, he spent two years as a saxophonist with the Air Force Band of the East, stationed at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ. In 1977, he began his college career at Indiana University in Bloomington, receiving his bachelor's degree in music and theatre in 1981. He thereupon returned to Pennsylvania to teach private saxophone and voice lessons, while performing in and directing regional musical theatre. In October 2005, he came full circle and was inducted into the East Stroudsburg Area School District's Music Hall of Fame.
Mr. Ehrlich moved to Northern Virginia in 1983 to teach private lessons and color guard at several area high schools before joining Woodson's staff in 1988. During his tenure, Woodson choirs have consistently received superior ratings at festivals and brought home many first-place trophies from competitions. Their accomplishments include performances for the American Choral Directors Association's Southern Division in 1998 and 2006. The Select Vocal Ensemble was a 1997-98 winner of the WGMS classical radio station/GEICO Young Artists in the Community contest and, as a result, was selected to perform at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre, and again last year at its Millennium Stage. In the summers of 1999 and 2006, Woodson ensembles toured Europe singing at storied sites and events including the Strauss Festival in Austria and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The Select Women's Ensemble performed for the VMEA convention in November 1993 and 1999, as did the Select Vocal Ensemble in 2006. The choirs also perform various forms of community outreach, including a partnership with Fairfax Families 4 Kids, a foster-child mentoring organization.
Ever thirsting for knowledge and new experiences, Mr. Ehrlich continued his graduate studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he studied with Robert Fountain. He received his master's in Music Education and Choral Conducting from Florida State University, and studied with Judy Bowers, Kevin Fenton, and Andre Thomas.
He was selected as one of seven finalists for Fairfax County Teacher of the Year in 1996, and is listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers. In 2002, he was named a USA TODAY All-American Teacher among just 60 nationwide. In December 2007, the local Times Newspapers/Fairfax-Annandale Times selected him as its Fairfax-Annandale Citizen of the Year. He also was the recipient of the 2007 VCDA Sidney Swiggett Award for outstanding service to the Virginia Choral Directors Association.
In October 2004, Mr. Ehrlich was a recipient of the Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center Scholarship for Teachers. He used the award to commission a piece for the Select Vocal Ensemble. The students worked closely with the composer, Dr. Philip Silvey of the University of Maryland, in selecting the text -- a poem by Sara Teasdale -- and sharing ideas for the work, I Am Not Yours. The Select Vocal Ensemble premiered this piece on May 25, 2005.
Mr. Ehrlich is stage and music director for the Choral Department's annual acclaimed revue, "Dessert on Broadway," as well as a regular performer. His regional theatre credits include Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Ali Hakim in Oklahoma! In the summer of 2007, he returned to the community stage, after a long hiatus, in 2nd Flight Productions' Elton John & Tim Rice's Aida and served as the show's vocal director, as well as a member of the ensemble. In the summer of 2008, he repeated his performance as vocal director and as a player in the troupe's production of the pop musical Bare.