Six Mississippi University for Women voice students advanced to the semifinals and three won prizes in the finals at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Southern Regional Conference and Student Auditions Nov. 8-11.

Aaron Rishel, Dr. Susan Hurley, Moira Cairns, Ricky Dubuisson II

The preliminary and semifinal student competition rounds were held on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The final competition round took place at the First United Methodist Church in Arkadelphia and was open to the public.

“I’m extremely proud for all our W students who participated in NATS. Every single singer was well prepared, professional and performed beautifully. I’m especially happy for those who advanced to the semifinal round or won prizes in the finals. This recognition of their accomplishments speaks to the high level of our voice area at The W and the excellent quality of our music department as a whole,” said Dr. Susan Hurley, associate professor of voice at The W.

Music Therapy major Moira Cairns, a soprano, and Music Composition major Ricky Dubuisson, a baritone, tied for First Place in Musical Theatre Non-Traditional Students, Cairns with a performance of “Adelaide’s Lament” from “Guys and Dolls,” and Dubuisson for his rendition of “I’m not that smart” from “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Baritone Aaron Rishel, a senior Voice Performance major, won Third Place in Fourth Year Classical Tenors, Baritones and Basses with a performance of the German Lied “Ganymed” by Franz Schubert.

In addition to the finalists named above, Cairns also advanced to the semifinals in a second category, Non-Traditional Students Classical. The W’s semifinalists also included Jerry Brown, Zachariah Harden and Charlene Stork. All six singers are in the studio of Hurley.

The conference also featured NATS member presentations and performances in addition to the student competition. Hurley, a soprano, was selected via peer review and presented a lecture recital to conference attendees on Friday, Nov. 10. She introduced and performed several 21st century American art songs from the “AIDS Quilt Songbook” in collaboration with soprano Dr. Marcy McKee of Northwestern Louisiana State University and pianist Dr. William Reber, director of choirs and staff pianist at The W.

This highly competitive event involved approximately 300 conference registrants from across Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Student competition rounds took place over three consecutive days. At the preliminary auditions on Thursday, singers offered a panel of judges a list of songs/arias in a variety of styles and languages according to their competition category. Judges heard multiple song selections on Thursday and scored each singer on various aspects of vocal technique, musicianship and artistry. The singers with the highest scores qualified for the semifinal round. Semifinalists were announced late Thursday night and competed again on Friday, singing one song of their choice. Then, the three singers with the top scores in each category advanced to the finals on Saturday.

NATS is the largest professional association of singing teachers in the world, with over 7000 members. NATS members teach at colleges and universities, independent studios and secondary and community schools. NATS supports teachers and students of singing through publications, masterclasses, internships, student auditions and more.

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.