W singers win top prizes

J5a0782COLUMBUS, Miss. (PRESS RELEASE) – Five Mississippi University for Women voice majors recently won awards at the statewide voice competition held by the Mississippi chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Feb. 25 and 26.

“I’m thrilled that every single W student who entered the competition not only placed in the finals but won one of the top awards in their division, including a singer who entered two categories and won prizes in both,” said Hurley. “The fact that our W singers were so consistently successful in meeting the demands of a major statewide competition speaks most highly of our voice area and of our music department as a whole.”

Jerry Brown, a music education major, won first place in Older Student Adults. Ricarrdo Byrd, a music education major, won first place in Upper Division Spirituals and also won third place in Upper College Musical Theatre, Tenors, Baritones and Basses. Kory Scales, also a music education major, won first place in Lower Division Spirituals. Faith Gammel, a music therapy major, won second place in Upper College Musical Theatre, Treble. Aaron Rishel, a voice major with Performance Emphasis, won second place in Junior Tenors, Baritones and Basses. Gammel is a voice student of Elizabeth Jones. Brown, Byrd, Rishel and Scales are voice students of Dr. Susan Hurley. Dr. William Reber, a member of the music faculty, accompanied all five W singers at the piano during each round of the competition.

The competition was part of the MS NATS chapter’s annual conference, which was hosted this year at The W. Nearly 100 registrants attended the event, including students and teachers from high schools, colleges, universities and independent music studios around Mississippi. Students competed on Friday afternoon in a preliminary round that was adjudicated by a panel of voice teachers. Each singer offered a list of three to four songs and/or arias. Singers with the highest scores in the reliminary round were named finalists on Friday evening. The final round, which was open to the public, took place Saturday morning in Kossen Auditorium in Poindexter Hall. Winners were announced immediately after the finals on Saturday afternoon.

NATS is the largest professional association of singing teachers in the world. Founded in 1944, NATS members include faculty in higher education, elementary and secondary schools, and teachers at independent music studios. NATS offers workshops, intern programs, conferences and masterclasses that provide ongoing professional development to members worldwide.

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