Earlier this month, Mercer voice students from the Townsend School of Music represented the University by competing in the student auditions for the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
NATS is the largest professional association of voice teachers in the world, with more than 7,000 members in the United States, and representation in over 25 other countries across the world.
Each year the NATS chapters host local student auditions. At these auditions, singers can perform to receive written feedback and compete against fellow students at various levels of vocal study.
This year’s annual competition for the Georgia chapter took place in Columbus at Columbus State University where almost 400 singers gathered to perform. Of the 20 Mercer students who entered, 14 placed in their individual categories, with some placing in more than one category.
The categories were organized by grade, level of study, and gender. For the preliminary round, the total number of students for one category was divided into multiple groups.
The semi-finalists from those preliminary groups ranked first to third, and those who won first or second place went on to compete in the run-offs for first place state winner in their overall categories.
Three Mercer students placed as state winners. Betsy Swanson, a sophomore music education major and voice student of Mrs. Marie Roberts, placed first overall for Second Year Classical College Women. McKinley Starks, a sophomore vocal performance major and voice student of Dr. Martha Malone, placed first overall for Second Year Classical College Women. Clay Mote, a freshman voice major and student of Dr. Richard Kosowski, competed against both freshman and sophomores and placed second overall in Lower Level Music Theatre College Men.
“The experience was gratifying,” commented Swanson. “Performing for the judges and having musical moments that really click, those are the moments I love as a musician. NATS is also a great opportunity to see musician friends from other Georgia schools.”
Dr. Malone, Chair of Voice Studies at Mercer, shared, “This is a high percentage of success for the size of our program. Our students were well prepared, professional, positive, and supportive of one another and of their colleagues from across the state.” The next GA chapter auditions will be held at Mercer this coming fall.
The hard work continues as many of these same students prepare to perform in the Mercer University Opera Gala, under the direction of Dr. Richard Koswoski on April 11-13.