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Bethel vocalists have good showing at regional competition

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Several Bethel College students competed successfully at the annual regional meeting of teachers of singing at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level.

The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) is divided into regional groupings that meet yearly in different locations. Soyoun Lim Chun, assistant professor of voice at Bethel College, took five of her students to the NATS West Central Regional Conference and Student Auditions, held this year at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, Oct. 31-Nov. 2. The West Central Region covers Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, in addition to Kansas.

The students were Kelsey Easterday, junior from Manhattan and a graduate of Manhattan High School; Lisa Geist, sophomore from Scott City and a graduate of Scott Community High School; Joshua Powell, junior from Basehor and a graduate of Basehor-Linwood High School; Sierra Pryce, sophomore from Newton and a graduate of Newton High School; and Monica Schmidt, sophomore from Mount Hope and a graduate of Haven High School.

For the student auditions, voice students are placed in different divisions according to their grade level and they compete in various musical categories. Pryce went to the final round in the Sophomore Women category, where she placed fifth.

“Even though Sierra didn’t win a prize, it was a very prominent result for a voice class of our size,” said Chun. The schools represented in the NATS auditions range from those with small departments like Bethel’s that bring only a few students to conferences, to those such as the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska with masters-level programs in music that bring dozens of students. Pryce sang several times in order to advance to the finals.

“Our other students had very good comments from other music faculty,” Chun added. Schmidt also competed in Sophomore Women, Easterday in Junior Women, Powell in Junior Men and Upper-Level Music Theater and Geist in Lower-Level Music Theater.

NATS was founded in 1944 and is the largest association of teachers of singing in the world. NATS has more than 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and more than 25 other countries. The NATS mission is “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.”

NATS offers a variety of learning experiences to its members, such as workshops, intern programs, master classes and conferences, beginning at the chapter level and progressing to national events. Students of NATS members have access to one of the organization’s most widely recognized activities, the student auditions, as well as the opportunity, along with members, to compete at the national level through the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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