Students at the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University recently took the stage with outstanding vocal performances at two separate South Carolina National Association of Teachers Singing (NATS) auditions: one for the musical theater division and one for the classical division.
“AU works hard to provide whatever opportunities you need to perform, to grow and to collaborate,” said Caroline Morris, a freshman vocal performance major. She said that AU has a unique focus and respect for the liberal arts.
The NATS auditions exemplify the educational experiences that the South Carolina School of the Arts provides, and Morris embraced the opportunity. She won her category for performances in both the musical theater and the classical division of the South Carolina NATS auditions. Griffin Lewis, a sophomore music education major, also won his category in the musical theater division. Upon winning their category, Morris and Lewis each performed in the event’s Honor’s Recital.
In addition to Morris and Lewis, several AU students excelled in both divisions and also advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Auditions, which will be held at Towson University in Maryland in March.
Deirdre Welborn Francis, an associate professor of music, said that NATS is a professional organization of voice teachers to which music professors from AU and most universities belong. She said that the NATS auditions allow students to sing against other students who share their class level and major, and it offers students a place to sing and be evaluated outside of Anderson.
“The NATS competition is a great opportunity for students of all ages to show their talent,” Lewis said. “It opens up many ways for students to get national recognition for their musical prowess. My professors at Anderson are a huge help and prepare me immensely for the competition.”
The South Carolina musical theater audition took place at Converse College in October, followed by the classical audition at Bob Jones University in February. Students from across the state gathered to participate. Though students did compete against one another, the aim of the event was to be a learning experience.
“Students don’t go there specifically for competition,” Francis said. “They don’t just get a score, they get feedback from the judges, they get constructive criticism.That’s helpful. I like it when the judges tell them the same things I have already told them.”
“As a freshman, you are usually wondering where you stand,” Morris said. “It was nice to have some confirmation that working hard up to college paid off. I felt like I was starting in a good place. It was really encouraging, and it was a really cool experience.”
Students will soon board a bus to Maryland to showcase their talent once again at the regional competition. If students qualify, they could advance to the national auditions.
“I am looking forward to attending Regionals in Maryland this March. The second stage of the competition only gets tougher, but I am looking forward to the challenge,” Lewis said.
This year isn’t the first time Anderson students have shined at the annual NATS auditions. AU students’ success at NATS is a testament to the program’s increasing achievements.
“I’ve been here 22 years and we continue to have students qualifying and winning, and that’s a good thing,” Francis said. “We have a good track record at all the levels: state, regional, and national levels. We are proud of that.”