Ouachita students take top honors in NATS regional competition

Three students from Ouachita Baptist University were honored at the Southern Region Conference of the National Association of Singing Teachers (NATS) held November 12-13 at the University of the South from Mississippi to Hattiesburg.

Erin Bagley, a major junior in musical theater from White Oak, TX, took second place in college musical theater, treble division; Kieran Malmer, a freshman music education student from Little Elm, Texas, took first place in first year classical, treble division; and Veronica West, a sophomore musical education student in Benton, Ark., was a semifinalist in sophomore classical, treble division and lower college musical theater division, treble division.

The NATS conference gives students the opportunity to participate in master classes and recitals and to audition in front of vocal teachers for commentary and a chance to win cash prizes. There were 185 students competing in the 2021 regional conference.

Semi-finalists are chosen through multiple auditions, starting with a preliminary round.

“This year, the preliminary round was held virtually as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr Margaret Garrett, music teacher in Ouachita. “Each participating student had to submit the correct number of videos of them performing individual songs for their category. The preliminary round is judged by three judges who give the students encouraging and constructive feedback, and a mark from zero to 100.

She added that students must receive either two marks of 90 or a total mark of 270 to advance to the semi-final. When they reach the final, they are evaluated by seven judges in each category.

West qualified for the classic division semi-finals singing “O del mio dolce ardor” from Paride and Elena by Christoph Willibald von Gluck, and for musical theater by singing “A Cock-Eyed Optimist” by South Pacific by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

In the final, Malmer won for a performance of “Poor Wand’ring One” from the comedy opera by WS Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan The pirates of Penzance.

Bagley won second place in the final with his performance of “Maybe I Like It That Way” by The wild party, a musical by Andrew Lippa.

For more information, contact Dr Margaret Garrett at [email protected] or (870) 245-5274.

Main photo (from left to right): Veronica West, Erin Bagley, Dr Maggie Garrett and Kieran Malmer

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