Ouachita Baptist University will host the National Association of Teachers of Singing conference and vocal competition for the state of Arkansas Feb. 22-23. The conference will feature guest artist Josh Shaw, a successful alumnus of OBU’s Division of Music.
“During the conference, there are events that promote vocal education and an audition/competition component,” explained Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music at Ouachita and coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program. “Students receive valuable feedback on their performance abilities from other voice professionals; if selected as a finalist, this is a noteworthy accomplishment which they may include on their professional resume. For the teachers it is an opportunity to interact with other voice professionals, and when our students do well it is an honor for us, too.”
“The experience and learning process of the whole weekend is worth way more than money can buy,” affirmed Caitlin Secrest, a junior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., who has been competing in NATS since her sophomore year in high school. “Any opportunity to perform has a positive significance for those of us that look forward to doing so with our lives.”
“I have participated in every semester since my freshman year and have had the opportunity to be a three-time NATS finalist and five-time semi-finalist,” said Victoria Mantooth, a junior vocal performance major from Sherwood, Ark. “Opportunities such as these are great ways to assist in the preparation for musical auditions and such in the future.”
“NATS gives us the chance to compete and be critiqued by someone other than our own teachers, which is great experience for the future,” said MaryLacey Thompson, a junior musical theatre major from Plano, Texas.
Students and teachers will also have the opportunity to hear a performance by Ouachita alumnus Josh Shaw, who will also lead a master class, a hands-on instructional session, as part of the conference. Shaw’s recital will take place Friday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in McBeth Recital Hall, and the master class will be Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 a.m., also in McBeth Recital Hall.
“It is always great to see our alumni succeed in their life’s ventures,” Dr. Secrest noted. “Mr. Shaw has already enjoyed a prolific career as a singer, producer, director and designer. We are proud to feature him as the guest artist and master class presenter for the Arkansas NATS event.”
Since graduating from Ouachita in 2001 with a Bachelor of Music degree, Shaw has constructed quite a resume by performing, directing, producing and managing sets for more than 60 plays, musicals and operas. He is a regular performer with a variety of opera companies in Southern California, has toured the U.S. with Opera a la Carte and currently serves as artistic director and co-founder of the Pacific Opera Project, a Los Angeles-based opera company that produces high quality, affordable productions throughout Southern California.
Shaw has been selected on three different occasions as a young artist for Opera in the Ozarks, and in 2007 contracted with them as both a singer and assistant stage director. As a lyric tenor, his most celebrated roles include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Rodolfo in La bohème, Alfredo in La traviata, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Don José in Carmen and the title role in Faust. He earned his master’s degree in opera and music theatre performance from Southern Illinois University.
Thomson noted that Shaw’s involvement and performance in the conference “will be a great way to see the outcome of hard work within our department.”
By Taylor Tomlinson