Artist of the Issue: Michael Senko

Five. That’s the number of singing groups Michael Senko ‘18 has been a member of during his four years at Groton. And if you have ever sat down in the Performing Arts Center to watch a show, there’s a good chance that you have seen Michael, whether in his role as Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night this past fall or perhaps last year in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Whether he’s singing a postlude with the Maquapellas, directing a one-act play, or performing at Open Mic night, Michael has been a strong presence in the arts for the past four years and continues to wow with both his skill and level of involvement.

One might be forgiven for assuming that he has always been a strong vocalist. On the contrary, he jokes, “I really did not know how to sing before I came here. Like, I was a terrible, terrible singer…I didn’t really know what a chest voice was, so I kind of just sang with my head voice.” Regardless, he had already developed the beginning of his intense love of singing and knew that he wanted to be a part of Groton’s choir. Michael credits Mr. Moriarty and the program for transforming him as a singer and, for this reason, feels a close connection to the choir, of which he is now a prefect. “I think choir is what instilled a real love of singing,” Michael explained, “there’s really no better sound to me than voices in harmony.” About Michael’s involvement in choir, fellow choir prefect Christian Carson ‘18 says that “Michael’s just such a great presence to have in the choir. He brings terrific energy to rehearsals and can reach high tenor notes that few others can.”

From there, Michael was able to make the jump the following year towards joining a cappella. This year, as a cappella head, he was able to arrange “Work Song” by Hozier and calls the experience “a really rewarding process… It’s amazing seeing something you’ve created come together.” As for the other songs he has worked with, he says that it’s “so interesting how a song is put together and how the chords that are used reflect the meaning and instill emotion.”

Outside of choir or a cappella, another place where Michael can regularly be heard singing is at Open Mic. His Open Mic experience began at the end of third form, when he sang “Shout” by The Isley Brothers with three friends. Calling it “the first time I really enjoyed singing live music,” Michael made immediate plans to sing at every Open Mic his upcoming fourth form year. However, after accidentally singing a song half a pitch off during one of the first open mics of the year, he took a hiatus from the Groton event until, in a show of Michael’s characteristic perseverance, he once again decided to become an active part of Open Mic from his fifth form year onwards.

When Michael isn’t singing in front of an audience or practicing with his peers, he’ll be singing in the Music Wing three to four times per week, during which he explores a more “emotional side to my singing.” He hopes to continue to exercise his love of music in college, mentioning that he “would love to join a band in college. I think that would be sick.” What type of music would this band perform? Probably anything and everything, he says, because he listens to it all: modern eighties pop, folk music—Lorde, you name it. He describes his taste in music as “anything with a strong melody, a catchy chorus, and that is well written.”

Unlike choir, theater became a large part of Michael’s life starting back in middle school. Though Michael points to a seventh-grade role as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast as the highlight of his middle school acting career, a memorable part for him was that of Troy Bolton’s dad in High School Musical.

“I know, I know. Everyone gets really excited before the ‘dad,’” Michael says. Having acted for the better half of his eighteen years, his continued love for theater stems from the process of developing characters. “The more you learn about the show and your lines, the more you develop an idea of your character, which is really interesting to me,” Michael elaborated.

As for his more recent productions at Groton, Michael’s favorite play was his fifth form fall’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: “It was a vibrant show that changed every night we did it. It very much felt like a living piece of theater, which was cool.”

However, when asked about his favorite role, he instead touched on a different side of Groton’s theater program: the role of Matt Shepard in The Laramie Project. “It was definitely the role I’m most proud of. I made people cry,” Michael says, referring to a lengthy, intense monologue he performed.

In addition to his two well-known passions of singing and acting, Michael also participates in a third art form: poetry. Despite always feeling a connection to poetry, he became much more active after taking both Poetry and The Waste Land this past winter, and now plans on minoring in poetry in college. Relating the activity to his other art forms, Michael explains that “It’s become another form of expression for me… I write a lot. Most of it’s pretty cynical.”

During his four years here at Groton, Michael has made an incredible impact on the arts department through his leadership. Beyond his clear talent, he has exemplified work ethic and perseverance in the face of setbacks that have arisen. Most of all, Michael has an exceptional love for singing and acting that makes one thing perfectly clear: whatever the future may hold, Michael will continue his involvement in the arts.