Four Mississippi University for Women students won prizes at the Mississippi chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) annual conference and Student Auditions finals Feb. 24-25.

 Aaron Rishel, Shakia Butler, Dr. Susan Hurley, Jerry Brown and Moira Cairns. 

Held at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, 69 students participated in the auditions, representing high schools, colleges, universities and independent music studios around the state.

“I’m extremely happy for our W singers,” said Dr. Susan Hurley, associate professor of voice at The W. “They’ve done the hard work in preparing for public performances such as this competition and it’s an extra reward for us all to see the outward evidence of their success. This is the fourth semester in a row that several of our W vocal students have scored competition triumphs. That speaks volumes about the quality of vocal music training here at The W.”

Moira Cairns, a music therapy major, won first place in Younger Student Adults; Jerry Brown, a music education major, won first place in Older Student Adults; Shakia Butler, a music education major, placed second in Upper College Musical Theatre Trebles; and Aaron Rishel, a performance major, placed third in Senior Tenors, Baritones, and Basses.

Dr. William Reber, of the music faculty, accompanied the singers at the piano during each round of the competition. All of the W singers are in the studio of Hurley.

Students competed Friday afternoon in preliminary rounds that were adjudicated by panels of voice teachers. Each singer offered a list of three to four songs and/or arias. Singers with the highest scores in the Preliminary Round were named Finalists on Friday evening. The Final Round took place Saturday morning. Each singer offered one piece in the Finals, and an awards ceremony took place immediately following the Finals.

At the finals, Cairns performed “Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen“by Clara Schumman; Brown performed “Lord, I just can’t keep from crying sometimes” by Margaret Bonds; Butler performed “Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” by Newman; and Rishel performed “Questo amor, vergogna mia” from Puccini’s “Edgar.”

NATS is the largest professional association of singing teachers in the world. Founded in 1944, NATS members include faculty in higher education, elementary and secondary schools, and teachers at independent music studios. NATS offers workshops, intern programs, conferences and masterclasses that provide ongoing professional development to members worldwide.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.