Director Michelle Pedersen is leaving Cantus Youth Choirs


After four years of service to Cantus Youth Choirs, Director Michelle Pedersen is leaving. Pedersen has decided to go to the University of Utah to get her masters and doctorate degrees in vocal performance and pedagogy. Pedersen’s departure was announced at the Season Finale concert on April 21, 2017.

The concert program included the following tribute from Director Keith McCauley:

Our dear friend Michelle Pedersen is leaving the Treasure Valley to pursue a masters and doctorate degree in vocal performance and pedagogy at the University of Utah. Her studies begin in the fall of 2017.

Not only is this the season finale, but it is Michelle’s finale as well. In addition to her performance as a director and choreographer and overall mentor of children and peers, she has graciously accepted the offer to perform. Her swan song will be queen of soul Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman. Brace yourself … it’s going to be epic.

Michelle is a rare creature. She teaches, sings, acts, and plays almost every instrument known to man. She does each of these things at a virtuosic level that leaves audiences gaping and friends gushing. Too often we’ve stretched the liberties of friendship and asked her to perform on the spot; like she’s a precious treasure that we pull out of our back pocket to show off at parties. If you’re imagining us flipping on a spotlight and shrieking “Play monkey, plaaaay,” you wouldn’t be too far from the truth! Watching her perform formally and informally is a real treat.

The talent that she was born with has been finely tuned (pun intended) through years of practice and personal dedication. In a world where too many give up too soon on too much, Michelle is a shining example of what can happen when you discover and then dedicate yourself to purpose.

Michelle is inspiring. She is a mentor to both young and old. Cantus is forever grateful for the mark that she has made. But even beyond that, I am personally grateful for the mark she has left in my life. She is a dear auntie to my sons. She is a dear sister to Erika and me. We wish her every possible success in this new phase of her life.

Erika McCauley, Artistic Director and founder of Cantus, invited long-time friend Pedersen to the stage for a very stirring tribute. McCauley said, “I can think of one word to describe this dear sister of mine, and that is selfless.” McCauley went on to share that Pedersen gave up most of her 20’s and 30’s when her mother succumbed to cancer and then caring for her father has he struggled through Alzheimers.

McCauley continued her tribute by sharing how Pedersen has given her life to teaching young people and working multiple jobs to help support her father. “I am so proud to know this woman and am so happy for her to take this next step in her life and to, at last, do something for herself.”

Emotions ran high for both Pedersen and McCauley when she received a standing ovation of gratitude for her contributions to Cantus Youth Choirs.

Pedersen then delivered an epic performance of Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman. She received a second standing ovation.

Following her performance, the following tribute video was shared.

The tribute portion of the concert concluded with a performance of Hallelujah by VoiceOver and touring members of VoiceOver.