Music students win awards at prestigious singing competion

Steve Stark is a multi-talented musician. He won 3rd place at NATS for sophomore men and also performed a violin piece at “Who’s The Man?” as seen here. (Photo by Brad Crofford)

Brad Crofford, Editor-in-Chief

Students took home multiple awards at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition on April 6 amidst a field of over 300 competitors.

Alex Bolerjack, fifth year senior with a double major in vocal performance and history, placed first in the adult category. Steve Stark, sophomore with a double major in vocal performance and music business, placed third in the sophomore men category. Ryan Smith, freshman music performance and music education double major, placed third in the freshmen men category.

“We are thrilled that our students are competing at such a high level against schools such as OCU, UCO, OBU and 15 other major colleges in Oklahoma,” Rebekah Ambrosini, a professor in the School of Music who helped prepare some of the competitors, said. “There were over 300 participants in this year’s competition, only three students in each age category place in the top three, and SNU had three such winners!”

According to Ambrosini, students spend many hours preparing three classical pieces in English, Italian, French and/or German for competition. Students selected their pieces carefully.

“When I made it to the second round, I chose to sing “Kenst Du Das Land” which translates as “Do You Know The Land,” Stark said. “I sang this piece because I really love the story line that is involved in this piece in Mark Adamo’s “Little Women,” plus this piece is in a very rich and full part of my vocal range.”

Beyond choosing pieces, students practiced to provide their own interpretation of the music.

“It took hours of preparation not only correcting notes and rhythms, but attempting to add my definition to the pieces that I sang,” Bolerjack said. “There’s no “cookie-cutter” approach to music; I had to make each piece my own.”

While it was students who performed, they say they owe a lot to their vocal instructors.

“We wouldn’t have stood a chance without the fantastic vocal coaches we are blessed with at SNU. I personally owe a lot of thanks to Rebekah and Jeff Ambrosini as well as Andrea Hansen,” Stark said.

Other SNU students who competed at NATS include Chesney Dodez, Melanie Cooper, Hannah Kinsey, Laura Miller and La Quana Sango.

According to its website, NATS is “the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,300 members in the United States, Canada, and over twenty-five other countries” and was founded in 1944.