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Singers excel at NATS

Concordia College had a record-breaking number of finalists at the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition on the weekend of Nov. 2 this year, with 20 out of 38 competitors going to semi-finals and 12 winners.

NATS is an opportunity for singers who are serious about their art to come and perform three songs for three judges. Lucy Thrasher, a voice teacher at Concordia who has participated in NATS as a teacher and as one of the judges for 25 years, stated that such opportunities for solo performance are important in the development of any singer.

“It’s important for students to have events when their own individual efforts are so tangible,” she said. “To have a chance to show what you know.”

Thrasher expressed her pride in all who participated, stating that this year’s group of “wonderful young artists” was especially talented. Each winner receives cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50 for first, second or third place respectively.

However, junior Laura Pancoast, a two-time NATS competitor who placed second this year, said that the experience of singing in competitive setting is far more valuable than the cash prizes.

“It’s a good experience to go out and perform in front of people,” she said.  “Some people go just to get over the nerves.”

Nerves are certainly high when the months of preparing three songs- one in a foreign language, one in English, and one an operatic aria- come down to one performance in the spotlight with three judges facing you. Sophomore Rachael Cammarn participated in NATS for the first time this year, and said that she was nervous as she readied herself to perform, because she felt unprepared and didn’t know what to expect.

But this is not American Idol, and both Cammarn and Pancoast said that the feedback from the judges is very beneficial to improving singing technique.

“It’s nerve-wracking when you see them scribbling furiously, and you don’t know what they’re writing,” Pancoast said.  “But it’s good to get feedback, especially from people you don’t know”.

Cammarn, who said that she is definitely going to do NATS as long as possible, also stated that it was the judges’ constructive criticism and encouragement which made NATS a “a really good learning experience.” She is glad to have had such an experience in her freshman year not just because of the educational value but also because of the bonding among the singers as well.

“As a freshman, I felt a bit disconnected,” she said. “By going to NATS, I got to know the circle of singers. Now I can see someone and know ‘oh she is this age, and maybe I can be like her and be in the Concordia Choir.’”

Being a part of such a successful team this year was also exciting for Cammarn, who stated that as she listened to the winners being called up to stage, she could not help feeling a sense of pride.

“Even if you didn’t become a finalist, you’re cool by association,” she said, “because you come from the same place they do.”

It was exactly this sense of team spirit which was where the true victory was found, Thrasher said. What made her proud was not the fact that there were so many winners but the attitude of support she saw within the group.

“What is so great about this particular group of students is they are so supportive of each other,” she said.  “There was an attitude of ‘a win for one is a win for all’.”

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