Rising high school vocalists vie to advance to the finals of national competition

The air in Munson Chapel was filled with tension as talented young high school singers prepared to be judged to reach the goal of the Chicago finals.

The first round of the National Classical Singers Competition (NCSC) took place on Feb. 2. Primary participants were high school students who have trained in classical voice for years and wish to pursue a singing career. This was the eighth time APU hosted the competition.

Students performed a multitude of difficult classical pieces ranging from “Santa Fe,” a musical theater song, to “Sweeter Than Roses,” an aria. To qualify for the finals in Chicago, performers were required to reach a score of four or above by exhibiting excellent technique and avoiding errors. Melanie Galloway and Rebecca Genzitnk, classical voice professors at APU and judges of the event, decided who would move on.

Galloway emphasized in order to stand out, young singers needed to have strong technique and the ability to connect with their audience. The score sheets judged performers on sound production, technique, musicianship and presentation, but these were not the only criteria.

“They’re young singers, so you are going to see things that are not perfect, but you have to look for potential,” Galloway said.

Students who move on to the final round of the NCSC receive advancement opportunities, including masterclasses and scholarships. For those who did not move on to the final round, the event presented itself as an opportunity for growth.

“I never want any of my adjudication to stop them from pursuing classical voice,” Genzitnk said. “I want them to grow from their experience.”

This competition also allowed students to receive a glimpse of what it’s like to audition for colleges and to make connections with industry professionals, an imperative piece of finding success. Skylar Lehr-Bryand, a third-time participant in the NCSC, alluded to this.

“I love this competition. You get to make so many connections, and I get to see what my future will look like in classical voice,” Lehr-Bryand said.

APU was able to host the competition because of Galloway’s connection to the director of the NCSC. This is beneficial to students, as it helps them see what APU’s voice program has to offer.

“APU has a terrific classical voice program headed by Angela Blasi,” Galloway said. “Our singers have gone on to top-tier graduate schools such as Manhattan School of Music, Boston University and Eastman School of Music and placed in prominent training programs and competitions including Houston Grand Opera YAVA and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.”

Galloway loves seeing the students’ excitement and love for classical music. Esme Salzman, a first time participant, demonstrated this.

“There are so many different and beautiful aspects of classical singing, but my favorite part is that people can express themselves through different languages,” Salzman said.

Events like the NCSC show a piece of the next generation of classical singers. They demonstrate the excitement of a young generation ready to show they can be great singers by being proactive through continual growth.