After beginning 2013 with a bang and placing second at the National Opera Association, Southern Utah University vocal students continued their winning streaking at the Cal-Western Regional competition of the National Association of Teaching Singers (NATS).
Competing against more than 90 students from five states, six T-birds were able to distinguish themselves and left the competition with medals on their chests and audiences singing their praises. SUU had two students who placed first in two divisions, two students took second place and two third place finishers. Alumna Geneil Perkins (’12) won top honors in the Graduate Advanced Women division.
Alex Byers, a senior studying music, took first place in the Upper College Men Division, while junior Brandon Campbell, who is double majoring in psychology and music, won third place in Lower College Men. Christina Meikle, a junior double majoring in music and Spanish, scored a second place victory in the Upper College Women Division. In the category of Music Theatre Men SUU swept the competition with theatre arts major Jayson LeBaron placing first, Trevor Walker, a senior studying music education, received a second place win and psychology major Tyler Adams placed third, all in the same category.
“These students were competing against much larger schools and they were able to prove that it’s not the size of the school that earns you a gold medal but it’s dedication and natural talent, two things our students have," said Carol Modesitt, professor of music. "Winning brings further validation that the SUU music program is exceptional.”
Modesitt continued on to say that Byers’ performance was followed by a thunderous applause for his unique interpretation. “Alex did such a idiosyncratic portrayal of a song by pairing it with a poetry. The way he married the song with the poem had those in attendance proclaiming it was a fantastic, moving performance.”
These victorious T-Birds gave full-credit to the professors and the programs at SUU, especially Carol Modesitt, Dr. Lawrence Johnson, Dr. Kevin Baker and Jackie Johnson, all professors within the Department of Music at SUU. Additionally, collaborative pianists Mary Anne Andersen and Dr. Christian Bohnenstengel were shared the stage, their talents and their insights into the music with the students.
This is the first time the Cal-Western Region of NATS competed and beginning next year, winning students at the regional competition will proceed to nationals, which are held in Boston, Mass. every year.