–Interview by Elisia Brodeur– 

Our very talented 6th grader Siri (Mac) Chaikul recently had the distinct honor of competing in an international vocal competition in New York at none other than Carnegie Hall. The competition, organized by American Protégé, is an “International Vocal Competition...designed for singers who would like to challenge themselves in a very competitive environment. The competition is open to solo vocalists and vocal groups of all ages, nationalities, and countries,” according to their website.

Our very talented 6th grader Siri (Mac) Chaikul recently had the distinct honor of competing in an international vocal competition in New York at none other than Carnegie Hall. The competition, organized by American Protégé, is an “International Vocal Competition...designed for singers who would like to challenge themselves in a very competitive environment. The competition is open to solo vocalists and vocal groups of all ages, nationalities, and countries,” according to their website.

We are delighted to report that Mac was awarded First Place in the Broadway/Musical Theatre Repertoire Category (for Juniors, age 11–14), “for the extraordinary dedication and achievement in the field of music performance.” Not only did he earn that coveted prize but Mac also received the Judges’ Distinction Award, which is given to only 6 outstanding participants from the entire competition, across all age groups, and from all over the world. Well done, Mac!

Here is a video that Mac put together and edited that features a recording of him singing at Carnegie Hall with a compilation of photos from the event: https://bit.ly/2VtIqpf

I recently talked with Mac’s dad to find out a bit more about how this prestigious opportunity came about.

How did Mac come to participate in this competition?

Mac has won several prizes over the last year, including a spot in the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra during their talent search and first place in the Singapore Lyric Opera ASEAN Vocal Competition 2018. He also won the Gold Vocal Junior prize in the 6th Hong Kong International Youth Performance Arts Festival even though he didn’t attend in person because he was auditioning for something else at the time. Mac decided to audition for the American Protégé International Vocal Competition as it’s a huge honor to participate. He submitted a video of his performance at the BSO concert for his audition. This competition also gave him the chance to visit New York and, of course, to perform in Carnegie Hall.

What did Mac think of performing at Carnegie Hall?

Mac has heard a lot about Carnegie Hall; it’s a privilege for musicians to perform there—it’s as distinguished as the Royal Albert Hall in London! Mac was extremely proud to be able to perform in this very special venue where many well-known artists get to perform. It’s a great accolade that Mac got to sing there at just 12 years old!

What do you think makes Mac’s performances so special?

He just loves singing and performing, he loves to be on the stage. He transforms into a totally different person—it’s like he truly comes alive. His goal is to engage with the audience and make them happy, which he does.

What else did Mac enjoy about New York?

It was Mac’s first time to the States and the first time there for our family as a whole. Mac loved New York! We got to see the Broadway musicals Frozen and Wicked. Mac also wanted to see Aladdin but we ran out of time. He was so impressed by the live performances. He actually wanted to stay in New York and audition for musicals but we explained that he needs to finish his education first!

What is Mac working on right now?

He’s practicing and concentrating on his singing, mostly songs from musicals, classical pieces, and Thai songs. He has 4 or 5 voice teachers because we’ve come to understand that the voice is an instrument that has different ranges of voice and tones; it’s different for each artist. So Mac needs to learn how to use proper breathing techniques and singing styles that suit his voice.

How much does Mac practice?

Most days he practices at least an hour, both singing and playing the piano. According to his teachers, the best singers also need to know how to play the piano. Sometimes his practice is less formal, like when he sings along with YouTube videos, but it’s just as useful because it helps him to improvise.

What’s next for Mac?  

He has auditioned for something but we can’t say what that is just yet. Let’s just say that you will be seeing Mac perform publicly in the near future… Watch this space!