On March 21-23, five Houghton College students along with professor of voice Mitchell Hutchings and assistant professor Kelley Hijleh attended the Regional Conference of the Eastern Region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). The students came out of the competition winning three awards and four placing as semi-finalists
“This was a very rigorous competition [that lasted] more than three days. I was impressed with the mental, emotional, and vocal stamina our students displayed,” stated Hijleh. “All of our students did a beautiful job of staying focused and positive during the grueling competition. We are proud of all of them!”
The students who attended the NATS conference were Michaela Rosplock ’17, Rachael Anacker ’15, Timothy McGowan ’16, Andrea Crickard ’17 and Suzannah Waddington ’14. Their accompanist was William Strydhorst, a student working on his master’s in the collaborative arts at Houghton’s Greatbatch School of Music.
Anacker came away from the conference as a semi-finalist for the Junior Women’s Division. McGowan placed third for the Upper Musical Theatre Division and was a finalist. Also a finalist, Crickard won third place for the Freshmen Women’s Division. Taking second for the Senior Women’s Division was Suzannah Waddington, who was also a finalist in the conference.
McGowan was additionally selected, via video submission, to participate in a master class with Adam Guettel. Guettel is an American composer-lyricist of musical theater and opera, best known for the two-time Tony Award winning musical The Light in the Piazza.
“In my experience,” says Hutchings, “this caliber of achievement is unprecedented. It is astounding to come away from the NATS with three winners and four semi-finalists.”
The NATS was founded by a group of teachers in 1944 who wanted to “encourage the highest standards of the vocal art and of ethical principles in the teaching of singing; and to promote vocal education and research at all levels, both for the enrichment of the general public and for the professional advancement of the talented.”
There are six districts that make up the Eastern Region of the NATS. Those are Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Quebec and West Virginia. The annual conference was held this year at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
“These students competed in a region filled with top-tier schools and conservatories,” says Hutchings. “I am proud to include the Greatbatch School of Music among the very best…Bravi tutti!”