OBU Music Students Place in Regional Competition

Two Oklahoma Baptist University music majors took home first and second place finishes during the finals of the regional National Association of Teachers of Singing contest, Nov. 10-11.

Three more of OBU's 17 student competitors earned places in the semifinals of the competition.

Both students of Rhetta Hudson, OBU associate professor of music, Jilian Russell tied for first place in the freshman women's division and Randy Umstead placed second in the senior men's division.

Semi-finalists included: Kathy Cripps, Ponca City, Okla., music education major with a piano emphasis from the studio of Norma Partridge, assistant professor of music; Crystal Morrow, Sand Springs, Okla., music education major from the studio of Partridge; and Michelle Thompson, Fort Worth, Texas, vocal performance major from the studio of Hudson.

Russell, performing "Bester Juengling" from Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor, competed against more than 120 girls in the freshmen women division.

The Chickasha native won the Oklahoma District NATS in the high school division for 3 consecutive years before coming to OBU.

Umstead, Olathe, Kan., in addition to his finals finish with "Die beiden Grenadiere" by Schumann, was named "audience pleaser" of the evening. He placed fifth last year at the regional NATS and placed first in the Oklahoma District NATS competition last spring.

Keith Whitmore, OBU staff accompanist, was the accompanist for both award winners.

The Texoma Regional NATS contest, held in Dallas at Southern Methodist University, includes students from the Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico and is considered the most competitive region of NATS in the nation.

Six hundred and sixty-five singers competed in the regional NATS contest and 135 teachers and 135 accompanists attended. Teachers may not enter students without attending the convention and judging. The teachers are not allowed to judge anyone from their school and generally not allowed to judge a division in which they have entered a student.

Aside from the auditions, students and teachers had the opportunity to attend seminars on "Music for Voice and Guitar," "The Singer-Accompanist Relationship," "Elements of Stage Presence," "Songs by American Women," "Songs on Multicultural Poetry of Nobel and Pulitzer Prize Winners," and "Sacred American Art Songs."

They were also able to participate in master classes led by Thilde Beuing retired member of the Kansas City Conservatory, and watched a presentation of the rarely performed Ravel opera, "L'Enfant et les Sortileges."