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“Guys and Dolls” musical theatre performance set for April 10-13 at Ouachita
By Bethany Peevy
March 26, 2014
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University’s musical theatre program will stage the acclaimed musical “Guys and Dolls” in Jones Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on April 10-12 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 13. Tickets are $10 per person with discounts available for groups of 10 or more.

The story unfolds in 1950s New York, when Nathan Detroit, maintainer of the “Oldest Established Permanent Floating Craps Game in New York,” tries to win $1,000 from high-rolling Sky Masterson in order to rent out a new location for his latest high-stakes game. He bets Sky that he cannot convince straight-laced Salvation Army Sgt. Sarah Brown to go with him to Havana and the daring gambler accepts.

“What I enjoy most about the show is the music and fast-paced dancing,” said Garrett Whitehead, a senior musical theatre major from Plano, Texas, who plays Nathan Detroit. “All of the characters are hysterical, and you cannot help but love the crazy antics they get into. It also helps that the cast is amazing.” Whitehead also serves as dance captain for the show.

“It’s like that perfect era in New York, the 1950s, and it’s the hustle and bustle of New York. So I love that,” said Lauren Linton, stage manager. “It’s so funny. It’s really kind of over the top gangster.” Linton is a senior musical theatre major from Coldwater, Miss.

The musical is double cast, with two performers cast for the roles of Sarah Brown and Miss Adelaide. One cast will perform on Thursday and Saturday, and the other on Friday and Sunday. The cast and crew hope that the community will take advantage of the opportunity “to see two different portrayals of the parts on stage,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, Ouachita professor of music and music director for the show.

“This dynamic is very helpful at times, but sometimes difficult as well,” said Alexis Morgan, a freshman musical education major from Frisco, Texas, who is cast as Sarah Brown along with MaryLacey Thomson, a senior musical theatre major from Plano, Texas. “It really makes you stay on your ‘A-game’ to do your best while you are up on stage.”

The musical is the result of “thousands upon thousands of hours” of hard work, said Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts and director of the show. “It’s very collaborative. That’s one of the great things about theatre is that you have to have other people on board, all working toward the same goal.”

“We just keep working every day until at some point there’s a moment where you realize it’s changed from rehearsing scenes and starts to feel like a show,” said Timothy Drennan, a senior musical theatre major from Paron, Ark., who plays Sky Masterson. “That’s when the excitement really starts to pick up.”

“It’s something that the community is going to really love,” Linton said. “It’s going to be really fun and I think everyone will enjoy watching it because there are exciting things happening in every scene.”

In addition to principals Drennan, Morgan, Thomson and Whitehead, Jordan Miller and Caitlin Secrest are double cast in the principal role of Miss Adelaide. Miller is a senior musical theatre major from Rockwall, Texas, and Secrest is a senior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark.

Other lead production team members include: Mary Handiboe, associate professor of theatre arts, as costume manager and makeup and hair designer; Linda Hatcher, JPAC box office manager, as box office manager; Joey Licklider, JPAC manager, as lighting designer and technical director; Amanda Murray, Ouachita alumnus, as costume designer; Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, as scenic and lighting designer; and Grace Whitaker, Ouachita alumnus, as choreographer.

Tickets may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and or one hour before show times. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during regular box office hours. Also, each current OBU student may receive one free ticket to the show by presenting his or her OBU ID at the box office.

See the full cast list and additional crew members at http://www.obu.edu/news/2014/03/26/guys-and-dolls-musical-theatre-performance-set-for-april-10-13-at-ouachita

Secrest named two-time finalist at Trinity Presents, to perform April 6
By Jessica Stewart
March 24, 2014
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Senior Ouachita Baptist University student Caitlin Secrest, a vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., has been named a finalist in the Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase. She will perform at the showcase at Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock, on Sunday, April 6, at 6 p.m. This is the second consecutive year Secrest was named a finalist.

“It is purely an honor to be chosen to compete in the finals of the Trinity Presents Collegiate Showcase,” Secrest said. “It is a blast to get to know the other competitors while sharing the blessing of music with a diverse audience.” Secrest also earned honorable mentions in the contest in 2011 and 2012. She will perform with her accompanist, Phyllis Walker, in the 2013 showcase.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen once for the final showcase; to be afforded the opportunity twice as an undergraduate student is truly a blessing,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music and coordinator of Ouachita’s vocal studies program.

The showcase is the annual finale of the Trinity Presents Performance Series, a program of Trinity United Methodist Church to extend their reach beyond its local congregation by presenting musical performances to central Arkansas. Undergraduate and graduate students from universities across the state audition to perform in the competitive showcase.

Ouachita junior Chad Burris, a musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark., was named a runner-up in the competition. In previous years, only finalists and honorable mentions were named; the runner-up category is new this year. Yuta Nishimura from Arkansas State University also received this honor.

“The selection committee struggled to narrow our selection down to only five finalists,” explained Robert Hughes, showcase coordinator. “The talent of the students chosen as runners-up was of such high caliber that if we had more positions the runners-up would have been selected as finalists.”

“It’s such a promising moment in your college career when you have been working hard on your craft to have someone acknowledge it,” Burris said. “I always take moments like these to remind myself that I am on track and the training I am receiving here is invaluable.”

Other finalist who will perform in the showcase include: Ting-Huan Chang from the University of Central Arkansas, on piano; Adonias Finch from Arkansas State University, on trumpet; Madeleine Hogue from the University of Arkansas, on flute; and Matthew Walker, counter tenor, from Henderson State University.

For more information on the showcase, contact Trinity United Methodist Church at (501) 666-2813. For more information about Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134. 

PHOTOS OF SECREST AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT http://www.obu.edu/news/?p=6763

Nine Ouachita students honored as state NATS finalists
By Jessica Stewart
March 17, 2014
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Nine Ouachita Baptist University students were named finalists at the 39th annual Arkansas National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) conference held at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark., earlier this month.

NATS was founded in 1944 and is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with thousands of members in nearly 30 countries. NATS offers a variety of lifelong learning experiences to its members. Ouachita students participated in the Arkansas conference, where students had the opportunity to attend recitals, master classes and professional workshops and presentations in addition to the competitive auditions. Jubilant Sykes, a Grammy-nominated baritone, was the featured artist for the conference.

“NATS is always a really great experience,” said Victoria Mantooth, a senior vocal performance major from Sherwood, Ark. “The guest artist for this particular NATS event was especially wonderful.”

“Jubilant’s master class really taught me ways to enhance the quality of my voice,” explained Seth Russell, a sophomore vocal performance major from Crossett Ark. “I would say NATS has shaped me to understand the meaning of what performance is really all about and has made me more mature in understanding why God has given me such a gift.”

The following Ouachita students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark. – Caitlin Secrest, a senior vocal performance student of Glenda and Jon Secrest, earned third place in the senior women division and fourth place in the upper music theatre division.

Bella Vista, Ark. – Beth Crisler, a freshman vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, earned second place in the freshman women division.

Bonnerdale, Ark. – Tori Clark, a sophomore choral music education student of Robin Williams, earned second place in the sophomore women division.

Crossett, Ark. – Seth Russell, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in the sophomore men division. Russell was also a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Frisco, Texas – Alexis Morgan, a freshman choral music education student of Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the lower music theatre division. Morgan was also a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

Glen Carbon, Ill. – Joel Rogier, a senior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned fifth place in the upper music theatre division. Rogier was also a semifinalist in the senior men division.

Nixa, Mo. – Josh Wayne, a junior choral music education student of Jon Secrest, earned first place in the upper music theatre division and second place in the junior men division.

Sherwood, Ark. – Victoria Mantooth, a senior vocal performance student of Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the senior women division.

Texarkana, Texas – Tara Clem, a junior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in the lower music theatre division.

Other Ouachita students named NATS semifinalists, in order of hometown, include:

Austin, Texas – Kimberley Attaway, a freshman choral music education student of Becky Morrison, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

Camden, Ark. – Evan Wheatley, a freshman music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the freshman men division and the lower music theatre division.

Fort Worth, Texas – Jillian Turner, a junior vocal performance and music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the junior women division.

Frisco, Texas – Katelyn Mason, a freshman vocal performance student of Maggie Garrett, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division and the lower music theatre division.

Lewisvile, Texas – Angela Bowen, a freshman music student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

Maumelle, Ark. – Hailey Weiner, a sophomore musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

McKinney, Texas – Lizzie Shelby, a freshman vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

Plumerville, Ark. – Breanna Bucko, a junior choral music education student of Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the junior women division.

Springdale, Ark. – Mitchell Yost, a junior music student of John Briggs, was a semifinalist in the junior men division.

Tyler, Texas – Hannah Bauman, a freshman worship arts student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division and the lower music theatre division.

Van Buren, Ark. – Jessica Smith, a senior musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

White Hall, Ark. – Bethany Gere, a junior musical theatre student of Maggie Garrett, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Ouachita students were accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: John Briggs, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker.

The OBU vocal faculty who worked with Ouachita students to prepare for this conference include: John Briggs, adjunct instructor of music; Dr. Maggie Garrett, assistant professor of music; Suzetta Glenn, lecturer in music; Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music; Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of the vocal studies program and professor of music; David Stanley, instructor of music; and Robin Williams, lecturer in music.

For more information about NATS or Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Caitlin Secrest wins Ouachita’s 16th annual Shambarger Competition

Caitlin Secrest wins Ouachita’s 16th annual Shambarger Competition
6 Mar, 2014Caitlin Secrest, a senior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., was awarded first place in Ouachita Baptist University’s 16th annual Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers on Feb. 25.

“I am just so proud of everybody who participated,” Secrest said. “It really is an honor to be named the first place winner out of so many people who worked so hard. Every single person gave a personal best performance.”

Secrest was awarded $500 for her first place performance of the aria “O luce di quest’ anima” by Gaetano Donizetti. She was accompanied by OBU staff accompanist Phyllis Walker.

“It’s an aria that I have always found really exciting and fun to perform, and it’s always gotten me jazzed about performing it,” she said. “It was a great fit for me, and I am just honored to get to sing music that has such a reputation.

“This win is really dedicated to three very important people in my life,” Secrest added. “To my parents/voice teachers who have given up so much of their lives to make all of these things possible for me and to further my education. I couldn’t have ever done it without them. Also to Mrs. Phyllis Walker, my accompanist. She is the most supportive and talented collaborator I could have ever asked for.”

Secrest is taught by both Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music, and Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music and chair of the applied music department.

“I am so proud of Caitlin and her accomplishments,” Dr. Glenda Secrest said. “I have been truly blessed with an incredible student and daughter. I thank God for the wonderful opportunity to work with her.”

The 2014 Shambarger Competition winners join judges Dr. Charles Fuller, Mary Shambarger and Stephen Ray.

Mary Shambarger (center) served as a judge for the 2014 Shambarger Competition for Singers named in her honor. She is seen here with (from left) honorable mention Joel Rogier, fourth place winner Joshua Wayne, judge and former Ouachita dean of fine arts Dr. Charles Fuller, judge and former Shambarger Competition winner Stephen Ray, third place winner Meredith Martin, second place winner Molly Salmon and first place winner Caitlin Secrest. OBU photo by Tyler Rosenthal.

Second place went to Molly Salmon, a junior music and psychology major from Henderson, Texas. She was awarded $300. She performed “Oh! quante volte” by Vincenzo Bellini and was accompanied by OBU staff accompanist Kristen La Madrid. Her voice teacher is Mr. David Stanley, OBU instructor of music.

“I felt incredibly encouraged when I heard my name called for second place,” Salmon said. “I would not have been able to do as well as I did without prayer and the help of my voice teacher, David Stanley. I am extremely grateful for his influence and expertise.”

“Molly gave a stunning performance that was really committed to the text and the music and was just absolutely amazing that day,” said Stanley.

Third place and a $200 award went to Meredith Martin, a senior music education major from Garland, Texas. She performed “Chacun le sait, chacun le dit” by Gaetano Donizetti and was accompanied by OBU staff accompanist Phyllis Walker. Her voice teacher is Dr. Margaret Garrett, OBU assistant professor of music.

“I am really proud of Meredith for doing so well,” said Garrett. “She has worked very hard. I am also proud of all my students who performed. Every year they raise the bar and really bring their best.”

Fourth place and $100 went to Joshua Wayne, a senior music education major from Nixa, Mo. He performed “Pierot’s Tanzlied” by Erich Korngold and was accompanied by Phyllis Walker. His voice teacher is Dr. Jon Secrest.

An honorable mention and $50 went to Joel Rogier, a senior vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill. He performed “Di Cupido impiego i vanni” by G. F. Handel and was accompanied by Phyllis Walker. His voice teacher is Dr. Jon Secrest.

The Shambarger Competition was established in 1999 in honor of Ouachita Professor Emerita of Music Mary Shambarger. This year, Shambarger attended the competition as a judge.

“Since the inception of the Shambarger Competition, I think this was probably the best one because there was so much talent,” Shambarger said. “It was very hard to come to a decision of who was a first place winner because we had so many good singers. The level of performance reflects what good teaching has gone on in the school of music.”

Twenty-two students participated in this year’s competition, performing arias from opera and oratorio. In addition to Shambarger, judges included: Dr. Charles Fuller, former director of Ouachita Singers and former dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts, and Stephen Anthony Ray, a 2008 alumnus and former winner of the Shambarger Competition. Students were accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: Glenda Aldridge, John Briggs, Kristen La Madrid, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

By Bethany Peevy

Eight Ouachita students named regional NATS finalists

By Taylor Tomlinson
November 18, 2013
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Eight Ouachita Baptist University students were named finalists at the 38th annual Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) conference held at Harding University in Searcy, Ark., earlier this month.

“We choose to participate in the Southern Region NATS conference and auditions because it is one of the most viable education opportunities available for young singers in our region,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program and professor of music. “I am most proud of the fact that Ouachita students realize the incredible opportunity that exists for continued enlightenment and development of their understanding of the singing art.” 

More than 300 students from colleges and universities throughout Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana participated in the competition, including 40 Ouachita students. At the conference, students auditioned in classical or music theatre divisions and have the opportunity to attend recitals, master classes and professional workshops and presentations.

“The importance of this event is truly the experience that is gained for each performer,” said Victoria Clark, a sophomore from Bonnerdale, Ark. Clark earned second place in the sophomore women division and was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

“When I heard I was a finalist, I was extremely excited and felt extremely blessed,” Clark added.  “Finals provide an opportunity to truly focus on the performance and make the most of it. With each performance I gave, I truly focused on giving it to the glory of God.”

The following Ouachita students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark.—Caitlin Secrest, a senior vocal performance student of Glenda and Jon Secrest, earned second place in the senior women division. Secrest was also a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Bonnerdale, Ark.—Victoria Clark, a sophomore choral music education student of Robin Williams, placed second in the sophomore women division. Clark was also a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Crossett, Ark.—Seth Russell, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, placed third in the sophomore men division.

DeSoto, Texas—Gemma Guiomard, a senior musical theatre and studio art student of Maggie Garrett, earned fourth place in the upper music theatre division.

Frisco, Texas
—Alexis Morgan, a freshman choral music education student of Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the freshman women division. Morgan was also a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Glen Carbon, Ill.—Joel Rogier, a senior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in both the senior men division and the upper music theatre divisions.

Little Rock, Ark.—Aaron Jones, a freshman choral music education student of John Briggs, earned fourth place in the freshman men division.

Nixa, Mo.—Josh Wayne, a junior choral music education student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in the junior men division. Wayne was also a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Other Ouachita students named NATS semifinalists, in order of hometown, include:

Bella Vista, Ark.—Sarah Talley, a junior vocal performance student of John Briggs, was a semifinalist in the junior women division.

Benton, Ark.—Mark Burbank, a freshman musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Bryant, Ark.—Angela Morgan, a sophomore musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Dallas, Texas—Ben Stidham, a junior musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Flower Mound, Texas—Cami Willis, a senior musical theatre and church media/production arts student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Fort Worth, Texas—Jillian Turner, a junior vocal performance and music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the junior women and upper music theatre divisions.

Garland, Texas—DeCarl Jones, a senior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Grand Prairie, Texas—Todd McNeel, a junior mass communications and speech communication student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Greenwood, Ark.—Garrett Sayers, a sophomore musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division.

Hot Springs, Ark.—Morgan Chunn, a junior choral music education student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the junior women division.

Justin, Texas—Ashley Bundy, a senior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the senior women division and the upper music theatre division.

McKinney, Texas—Lizzie Shelby, a freshman vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

North Little Rock, Ark.—Kenderick Scorza, a sophomore musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Rogers, Ark.—John Doss, a junior music theory and composition student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the junior men division. Kyle Osmon, a sophomore musical theatre student of Maggie Garrett, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Rudy, Ark.—Wes Savage, a freshman musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Texarkana, Texas—Tara Clem, a sophomore musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Tyler, Texas—Hannah Bauman, a freshman worship arts student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division and the lower music theatre division.

Ouachita students were accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: Susan Monroe, John Briggs and Phyllis Walker.

The OBU vocal faculty who worked with Ouachita students to prepare for this conference include: John Briggs, adjunct professor of music; Dr. Maggie Garrett, assistant professor of music; Suzetta Glenn, lecturer of music; Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music; Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of the vocal studies program and professor of music; David Stanley, instructor of music; and Robin Williams, vocal music lecturer.

For more information about NATS or Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Ouachita Opera Theatre to present “Die Fledermaus” Oct. 31-Nov. 3

By Taylor Tomlinson
October 18, 2013

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208
ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University’s Division of Music/Opera Theatre will present Johann Strauss II’s comedic opera Die Fledermaus, or “The Revenge of the Bat,” on Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. as well as a matinee performance on Nov. 3 at 2:30 p.m. in Jones Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. Students with a current OBU ID may receive one free ticket.

“Our cast is one of the best we have ever assembled for an operatic production at OBU,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, music director and conductor of the opera and coordinator of Ouachita’s vocal studies program. Secrest added that the opera contains “beautiful soaring melodies” and that the audience should recognize many of the tunes.Fledermaus-horizontal-shot

Set in Vienna during the Victorian Era, Die Fledermaus is a three-act opera centered on retribution and mistaken identities of prisoners, wives, old flames and old friends at Prince Orlofsky’s ball. As a comedy, audience members should “be ready for an evening of fun and laughter,” said Dr. Glenda Secrest, stage director of the opera and professor of music at Ouachita.

According to Jon Secrest, the audience will also enjoy “the visual spectacle of the grand Viennese style.” Costumes for the performance will be rented from a professional company in New York, and “are going to be incredible,” said Kaylee Nebe, a junior musical theatre major from Mesquite, Texas, who heads the costume crew.

Also involved in the production are David Stanley, instructor of music, who serves as chorus master for the show; Joey Licklider, JPAC manager, who serves as technical director; and Dallas Sleeman, a sophomore theatre arts major from Kentwood, Mich., who serves as stage manager.

Those interested in the story but unfamiliar with the operatic genre should not be intimidated, Jon Secrest said. “Our audience members are surprised at how entertaining the OBU Opera Theatre productions are,” he noted. Nebe added that it should “be really easy for the audience to follow along and invest in the story.”

Primary cast members for the production will include: Chad Burris, a junior musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark., as Alfredo; Tara Clem, a sophomore musical theatre major from Texarkana, Texas, as Ida; Todd McNeel, a junior mass communications and speech communication major from Grand Prairie, Texas, as Frogg; Victoria Mantooth, a senior vocal performance major from Sherwood, Ark., as Orlofsky (this role also is covered by Sarah Talley, a junior vocal performance major from Bella Vista, Ark.); Joel Rogier, a senior vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill., as Eisenstein; Seth Russell, a sophomore vocal performance major from Crossett, Ark., as Dr. Falke; Caitlin Secrest, a senior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., as Rosalinda; Jillian Turner, a junior vocal performance and music major from Fort Worth, Texas, as Adele; Josh Wayne, a junior choral music education major from Ozark, Mo., as Frank; and Jalin Wesley, a sophomore musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., as Dr. Blind.

Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. Students with a valid OBU ID may receive one free ticket. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during business hours.

For a full list of cast, crew and orchestra personnel, visit http://www.obu.edu/news/?p=6258.

CUTLINE INFORMATION FOR ATTACHED PHOTO: Joel Rogier, as Eisenstein, and Caitlin Secrest, as Rosalinda, prepare for Ouachita Baptist University’s upcoming production of Johann Strauss’ comedic opera “Die Fledermaus,” which will play Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at Ouachita’s Jones Performing Arts Center. OBU Photo by Kristen Barnard

Ouachita Baptist University’s Bethany Swiontek, a senior musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., was named the winner of the 2013 Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase held recently at Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Ark.

Bethany Swiontek

“When the host of the showcase announced that Bethany was the winner, my jaw dropped,” said Dr. Margaret Garrett, assistant professor of music and Swiontek’s voice teacher. “I was joyfully shocked.”

The five finalists from across the state, including Ouachita junior Caitlin Secrest, a vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., each were allotted 12 minutes to perform for a panel of judges.

In addition to the $500 Swiontek received for being named a finalist, she was awarded $1,000 for winning the competition.

“Bethany’s aria, ‘Robert, toi que j’aime,’ was stunning,” Garrett noted. “Her tone and resonance were brilliant. Her second song, ‘With You,’ was very moving; several of the members of the audience were wiping tears after her performance. She closed with ‘If You Hadn’t But You Did,’ an upbeat comedic piece, which was hilarious!”

Swiontek said she was initially nervous to go on stage, but “my best friend Heather White was in the audience, which makes pretty much any nerves I may have had disappear,” she said.

“I am very proud of Bethany’s accomplishments this year and know that she has great potential to succeed in a performing career if that is where God leads her,” Garrett said. “It is encouraging for me, as a teacher, when my students receive positive recognition for their hard work.”

“Dr. Garrett is one of the most kind, dedicated and knowledgeable voice teachers I have ever had and I am deeply going to miss her when I graduate,” Swiontek said. “I am so grateful to my family and friends who are always there to encourage and support me in my endeavors.”

Lately, Swiontek has been recognized repeatedly for her talent. She has placed first at both the state and regional levels of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) auditions, received the encouragement award at this year’s Arkansas District Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions and will play the lead role of Dolly Levi this month in Ouachita’s production of Hello, Dolly!

Swiontek said she is “overwhelmed and incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had to perform, the people who have helped me prepare and the incredibly talented performers I have met and competed with.”

Four Ouachita students were also named as honorable mention recipients. Chad Burris, a sophomore musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark.; Bradley Lindsey, a senior instrumental music major from Longview, Texas; Lola McClendon, a senior musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark.; and Joel Rogier, a junior vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill., were chosen along with five other students from six universities.

For more information about the Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase, visit their website at www.tumclr.org/index.php/connect/music-ministries/trinity-presents. For more information about Ouachita’s Division of Music, visit www.obu.edu/music.

By Ryleigh Salmon

“Hello, Dolly!” performance April 18-21 marks 25th anniversary of historic Ouachita production

By Rachel Gregory
April 5, 2013
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208.

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Ouachita Baptist University’s musical theatre program will stage the acclaimed musical “Hello, Dolly!” in Jones Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on April 18-20 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 21. Tickets are $10 per person with discounts available for groups of 10 or more. Ouachita students will receive one free ticket with the presentation of their school IDs.

“Hello, Dolly!” follows the story of Miss Dolly Levi, who pursues Horace Vandergelder, a “well-known half-a-millionaire,” in hopes of marriage. Becoming a matchmaker for other characters along the way, Dolly wishes to disperse Vandergelder’s money to the people because, according to Dolly’s late husband, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.”

Ouachita first presented “Hello, Dolly!” in 1988 as a collaboration between OBU’s theatre and music programs. That partnership eventually led to the development of the university’s musical theatre program.

“The opportunity to do a 25-year musical theatre reunion celebration in conjunction with the show that started a consistent collaboration between theatre and music was a strong deciding factor when we chose ‘Hello, Dolly!’” said Mary Handiboe, associate professor of theatre arts and the musical’s director. In the 1988 production of “Hello, Dolly!” in OBU’s old Mitchell Auditorium, Handiboe played the role of fake heiress Ernestina.

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to be playing the lead in “Hello, Dolly!” and to be surrounded by such an incredible and talented cast for the process!” said Bethany Swionteck, a senior musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., who is playing the lead role for this year’s anniversary performance. “Audience members of all ages are going to absolutely love this timeless classic and should come ready for some great laughs, great singing and an overall wonderful night!”

“With musical theatre, the work is engaging from the very moment the curtain comes up,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music as well as the production’s musical director and publicity coordinator.

“Any time we mount a production of this magnitude, there are countless hours of time that go into its completion,” Secrest said. “We’re bringing to culmination a lot of man hours, a lot of energy and a lot of focus. The students have done remarkably well – as they always do.”

Principal Roles

 Bethany Swiontek, a senior musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., will play the lead role of Dolly Levi.

Jacob Sturgeon, a senior musical theatre major from Pine Bluff, Ark, will play the part of Horace Vandergelder.

Chad Burris, a sophomore musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark., will play Cornelius Hackl.

Garrett Whitehead, a junior musical theatre major from Cleburne, Texas, will play the role of Barnaby Tucker and serve as the assistant dance captain.

Caitlin Secrest, a senior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark. performing Thursday and Sunday, and MaryLacey Thomson, a senior musical theatre major from Plano, Texas performing Friday and Saturday, are double cast as Irene Molloy.

Heather White, a senior musical theatre major from Houston, Texas, performing Thursday and Saturday, and Hailey Weiner, a freshman musical theatre major from Maumelle, Ark., performing Friday and Sunday, are double cast as Minnie Fay.

Timothy Drennan, a senior musical theatre major from Paron, Ark. performing Thursday and Saturday, and Cody Myers, a senior musical theatre and psychology double major from Van Buren, Ark. performing Friday and Sunday, are double cast to play the role of Ambrose Kemper. Myers also is serving as the marketing intern.

Amanda Murray, a senior musical theatre major from Racine, Wis., performing Thursday and Saturday, and Michelle Levy, a senior musical theatre major from Arkadelphia, Ark., performing Friday and Sunday, are double cast as Ermengarde. Murray also is the assistant costume designer.

Shay Michael, a senior musical theatre major from Grapevine, Texas, performing Thursday and Saturday, and Lola McClendon, a senior musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., performing Friday and Sunday, are double cast as Ernestina.

Joel Rogier, a senior vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill., will play the role of Rudolph Reisenweber.

Featured Roles

Danielle Love, a freshman musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark., as Mrs. Rose.|
Walter Dodd, a freshman theatre arts major from Little Rock, Ark., as the Coachman and the Second Cook.
Kayla Esmond, a senior musical theatre major from Burleson, Texas, and Cami Willis, a junior musical theatre major from Flower Mound, Texas, as the Horse and a core dancer.
Tyler Wisdom, a sophomore musical theatre major from Russellville, Ark., as Stanley.
Jalin Wesley, a sophomore musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., as the First Cook.
Dr. Casey Motl, assistant professor of history, as the Judge.
Dr. Ray Granade, director of library services and professor of history; Dr. Keldon Henley, vice president for institutional advancement; and Dr. Jeff Root, dean of School of Humanities, will play Policemen.
Brooke Brackett, a junior theatre arts major from Springdale, Ark., as the Court Reporter.
CJ Bernard, a junior theatre arts major from Sherwood, Ark., as the Paperhanger and a core dancer.

Core Dancers

Stacy Hawking, a freshman musical theatre major from Sherwood, Ark., will serve as the assistant choreographer and dance captain for the core dancers.
DeCarl Jones, a senior musical theatre major from Garland, Texas.
Lauren Linton, a junior musical theatre major from Coldwater, Miss.
Nicole Mattson, a senior musical theatre major from Rowlett, Texas.
Todd McNeel, a junior mass communications major from Grand Prairie, Texas.
Jordan Miller, a senior musical theatre major from Rockwell, Texas.
Kaylee Nebe, a junior musical theatre major from Mesquite, Texas.
Joe Ochterbeck, a junior theatre arts major from Maumelle, Ark.
Ben Stidham, a sophomore musical theatre major from Dallas, Texas.
Blaine Surber, a junior musical theatre major from Sulphur Springs, Texas.

Chorus Members

Reed Ashley, a freshman musical theatre from Booneville, Ark.
Mattie Bogoslavsky, a freshman musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark.
Ashley Bundy, a senior vocal performance major from Justin, Texas.
Tara Clem, a sophomore musical theatre major from Texarkana, Texas.
Bethany Gere, a sophomore musical theatre major from White Hall, Ark.
Shannon Huntsman, a sophomore speech communication major from Little Rock, Ark.
Blakely Knox, a sophomore music major from Fort Smith, Ark.
Ben Perry, a senior musical theatre from North Little Rock, Ark.
Seth Russell, a freshman vocal performance major from Crossett, Ark.
Kenderick Scorza, a freshman theatre arts major from North Little Rock, Ark.
Jessica Smith, a sophomore musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark.
Lily Taylor, a freshman musical theatre major from Harriman, Tenn.
Robby Taylor, a sophomore musical theatre major from Harriman, Tenn.

Lead Production Team

Mary Handiboe, associate professor of theatre arts, director.
Jon Secrest, professor of music, music director/publicity coordinator.
David Stanley, instructor of music, assistant music director.
Scott Holsclaw, dean of the School of Fine Arts, producer.
Sherry Barnard, professional choreographer from Kentucky, choreographer.
Betsy Wilson, a senior musical theatre major from Katy, Texas, stage manager.
Sarah Davis, a senior Christian studies and theatre arts double major from Bedford, Texas, assistant stage manager.
Dallas Sleeman, a freshman theatre arts major from Kentwood, Mich., assistant stage manager.
Eric Phillips, professor of theatre arts, scenic and lighting designer/technical director.
Gemma Guiomard, a senior musical theatre major from DeSoto, Texas, assistant scene designer.
Joey Licklider. JPAC manager, sound designer/JPAC technical director.
Marshall Pope, theatre shop technical director, build supervisor.
Daniel Inouye, assistant professor of theatre arts, costume design head.
Katelyn Sain, a senior musical theatre major from Grand Prairie, Texas, costume crew head.
Lacey Johnson, a senior history major from Rancho Mirage, Calif., makeup crew head.
Alexis Nichols, a senior musical theatre major from Arkadelphia, Ark., properties crew head.
Linda Hatcher, JPAC box office manager, box office manager.
Alison Johnson, a senior musical theatre major from Shreveport, La., house manager/publicity crew head.

Tickets may be purchased at the Jones Performing Arts Center Box Office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and one hour before show times. Tickets may also be purchased with credit card by phone or online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. For more information, call the box office at (870) 245-5555 during regular box office hours. Also, each current OBU student may receive one free ticket to the show by presenting his or her OBU ID at the box office.

Two Ouachita Baptist University students will compete as finalists in this year’s Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Ark. on Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. Caitlin Secrest, a junior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., and Bethany Swiontek, a senior musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., will represent Ouachita as two of five finalists from universities across the state. Four other Ouachita students received honorable mentions in the competition.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the music students from throughout the state of Arkansas to be recognized for the outstanding development of their performance medium,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music and coordinator of Ouachita’s vocal studies program.

Other finalists in the competition include Amy Frenzel, a pianist from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Rachel Herman, a violinist from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and Masaru Sakuma, a pianist from the University of Central Arkansas.

The finalists will be allotted 12 minutes each to perform for a panel of judges, who will evaluate each performance and select an overall winner.

Caitlin Secrest

Caitlin Secrest

Caitlin Secrest, a soprano, will sing “Tarentelle” by Georges Bizet, “Prendi, per me sei libero” from L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti and “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide by Leonard Bernstein.

This is Secrest’s third consecutive year to audition for the showcase and she was named an honorable mention recipient for the past two years. “As a freshman, I was introduced to this competition by my voice teachers/parents,” Secrest said. “The competition has grown larger and more competitive with each year that I’ve participated. This affirmation encouraged me to continue to work hard and earn a spot in the finals of the competition.”

Dr. Jon Secrest and Dr. Glenda Secrest, professors of music, are “proud of the incredible work ethic and dedication that Caitlin possesses, and her willingness to spend the hours in the practice room which lead to productive work and results of this nature,” Dr. Jon Secrest said.

Bethany Swiontek, also a soprano, will perform the French aria “Robert, Robert toi que j’aime” from Robert le diable by Giacomo Meyerbeer, “With You” from Ghost The Musical by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard and “If You Hadn’t But You Did” from Two On the Aisle by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

Bethany Swiontek

Bethany Swiontek

“When I think about Bethany as a freshman and Bethany today, I am overwhelmed with pride for her and a sense of joy for the positive recognition she is receiving as a result of her years of hard work,” said Dr. Margaret Garrett, assistant professor of music and Swiontek’s voice teacher. “She does not simply ride on her talent, but continues to work hard to become even better at what she does.”

Four Ouachita students were also named as honorable mention recipients. Chad Burris, a sophomore musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark.; Bradley Lindsey, a senior instrumental music major from Longview, Texas; Lola McClendon, a senior musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark.; and Joel Rogier, a junior vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill., were chosen along with five other students from six universities.

“I was happy to be chosen as honorable mention, especially within the competition where there were so many amazing musicians,” Lindsey said.

McClendon agreed, saying, “The amount of talent in this competition is insanely amazing, so being recognized for is it unbelievable.”

“The last few years, OBU has had a strong track record of both finalists and honorable mention recipients in this competition,” Dr. Jon Secrest noted. In 2012, Grace Johnson was a finalist; in 2011, Jacob Watson placed first in the competition and Elisabeth Hipp was a finalist; and in 2010, Kyle Huey placed first and Hipp also was a finalist.

“We have an incredibly gifted and talented music program at Ouachita with professors who accept nothing less than excellence from all of us,” Swiontek said. “It never surprises me when so many of us are able to succeed.”

For more information on the Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase, visit their website at http://www.tumclr.org/index.php/connect/music-ministries/trinity-presents. For more information about Ouachita’s Division of Music, visit www.obu.edu/music.

By Ryleigh Salmon

Two Ouachita Baptist University music students were recently named Arkansas state winners in the National Federation of Music Club’s (NFMC) biennial Student/Collegiate Auditions. T.J. Bailey was named first place winner in the piano division and Caitlin Secrest was named first place winner of the women’s voice division.

As winners, they each received a $200 cash prize and have been invited to perform at the Arkansas Federation of Music Club’s state convention, May 3-4, at Ouachita. Both Bailey and Secrest’s work will also move on to the national level for judging.

“This competition is a major way in which the National Federation of Music Clubs encourages young talented student musicians to continue their musical development,” said Dr. Ouida Keck, Addie Mae Maddox Professor of Music.

The NFMC is a “non-profit philanthropic and educational organization dedicated to music education and promotion of creative and performing arts in America since 1898,” according to its website.

“This particular competition has very specific requirements when applying or auditioning and one of the most important stipulations was that the audition be strictly audio,” said Secrest, a junior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark. “Rather than seeing the complete package … their evaluations were based on what they heard.”

TJ BaileyBailey, a junior church music major from Fort Smith, Ark., was named the 2012 winner of the annual Virginia Queen Piano Competition, is a member of the Ouachita Singers choir and is the current president for the OBU chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national fraternity for men in music. He is a student of Dr. Keck.

“T.J. came to audition for a piano scholarship at Ouachita and his playing and academic record led us all to believe he had great potential as a pianist and music major,” Keck said.

“Dr. Keck has helped me grow immensely, and not just in my piano playing,” Bailey said. “She has been the first person aside from my parents to really push me to achieve my potential.

“I was honored to hear that I had been chosen first in the state,” Bailey added. “I’m excited to find out how my performance competes at the national level.”

Bailey said he enjoyed the recording process more than performing live. “I think I benefited from the relaxed atmosphere,” he said. Bailey recorded “Prelude and Fugue No. 10 in E Minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Presto” from “Sonata Op. 10 No. 3 in D major” by Ludwig van Beethoven, “Polonaise Op. 26, No. 1” by Frédéric Chopin, “Passacaglia” by Aaron Copland and “Etude Op. 2, No.1” by Alexander Scriabin.

Caitlin SecrestSecrest, a soprano, was named the first place winner of the 2012 Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers, has been a finalist at the state and regional levels of the National Association of Teachers of Singing auditions and is a member of the Ouachita Concert Choir.

Secrest recorded “Ah! Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod, “Come unto Him” from Messiah by George Frideric Handel, “Nel cor più non mi sento” by Giovanni Paisiello, “Breit’ über mein Haupt” by Richard Strauss, “J’ai pleuré en rêve” by Georges Hüe, “Where the Music Comes From” by Lee Hoiby, “Heart, we will forget him” by Aaron Copland and “Dreaming” by Lori Laitman.

Secrest said she was surprised to be chosen as the state winner. “I went into the competition thinking it was a long shot, but God provides true blessings,” she said. “I am so very humbled to represent not only myself, but my parents and Ouachita.”

Secrest is a student of her parents, Dr. Jon Secrest and Dr. Glenda Secrest, professors of music. “Studying with them works out so easily because their teaching is not based on negativity or criticism,” Secrest added. “It comes from a desire to build me into the best complete artist that I can be. … It is not easy by any means. Because they know me so well, they know my capabilities and expect more from me.

“As a voice teacher, you are always proud of your students’ accomplishments, but it is obviously extra special because she is my daughter,” Dr. Glenda Secrest said. “You could say I’m doubly proud!”

For more information about the NFMC, visit their website at www.nfmc-music.org. For more information about Ouachita’s Division of Music, visit www.obu.edu/music.

Seven Ouachita students set record for first place awards at Arkansas NATS conference

By Rachel Gregory
March 6, 2013
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208.

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – A record seven first place awards were presented to Ouachita Baptist University students at the recent National Association of Teachers of Singing’s Arkansas chapter conference and student auditions. The event was hosted by Ouachita Feb. 22-23 in Mabee Fine Arts Center and was a record-breaking year in many respects.

“I was so proud of my colleagues on the voice faculty, of our fantastic staff accompanists, of our student workforce that volunteered in various capacities and our campus-wide offices that assisted in successfully seeing to each and every one of these details,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music. “It was as close to being perfect as possible.”

Of the 30 finalist positions for college undergraduates, Ouachita students occupied 16. A record 334 students from colleges and universities across the state of Arkansas entered the competition, representing a record 45 teachers. Ouachita students competed in a total of 111 auditions in the competition – another record.

“This kind of showing creates momentum for our vocal studies program and is excellent public relations for the OBU Division of Music,” Secrest said.

The following students were named NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark. – Caitlin Secrest, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest and Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the junior women division and fourth place in the upper music theatre division.

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Bethany Swiontek, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Maggie Garrett, earned first place in the senior women division and second place in the upper music theatre division.

Crossett, Ark. – Seth Russell, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned second place in the freshman men division.

Elkland, Mo. – Joshua Wayne, a sophomore choral music education student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the sophomore men division and third place in the lower music theatre division.

Garland, Texas – Meredith Martin, a junior choral music education student of Dr. Maggie Garrett, earned second place in the junior women division and was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Glen Carbon, Ill. – Joel Rogier, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the junior men division and was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Grand Prairie, Texas – Todd McNeel, a sophomore music student of David Stanley, earned second place in the sophomore men division and was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Henderson, Texas – Molly Salmon, a sophomore music student of David Stanley, earned first place in the sophomore women division and was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Maumelle, Ark. – Hailey Weiner, a freshman musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, earned second place in the lower music theatre division.

Saginaw, Mich. – Hannah Garner, a senior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the upper music theatre division and was a semifinalist in the senior women division.

Tyler, Texas – Rachel Williams, a freshman vocal performance major student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned second place in the freshman women division.

Van Buren, Ark. – Chad Burris, a sophomore musical theatre student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the lower music theatre division and was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division.

White Hall, Ark. – Bethany Gere, a sophomore musical theatre student of Dr. Maggie Garrett, earned second place in the sophomore women division and was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Other Ouachita students named NATS semifinalists, in order of hometown, include:

Alexander, Ark. – Jake Briggs, a freshman music student of Tom Bolton, was a semifinalist in the freshman men division. Elizabeth Wheeler, a sophomore psychology student of John Briggs, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Arkadelphia, Ark. – Alexis Nichols, a senior musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Bonnerdale, Ark. – Victoria Clark, a freshman choral music education student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division and the lower music theatre division.

Branson, Mo. – Esther Weicht, a freshman vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

Burleson, Texas – Kayla Esmond, a junior musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Carrollton, Texas – Christina Moon, a sophomore church music student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the sophomore women division.

Cleburne, Texas – Garrett Whitehead, a junior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Coldwater, Miss. – Lauren Linton, a junior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Erin Cheshire, a freshman choral music education student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division.

DeSoto, Texas – Gemma Guiomard, a junior musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the junior women division and the upper music theatre division.

Flower Mound, Texas – Cami Willis, a sophomore musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Fort Smith, Ark. – Blakeley Knox, a sophomore music student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Fort Worth, Texas – Jillian Turner, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the sophomore women division.

Garland, Texas – Emma Patterson, a junior choral music education student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the junior women division. DeCarl Jones, a junior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Grapevine, Ark. – Shay Michael, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Hot Springs, Ark. – Breanna Bullington, a senior church music student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the senior women division. Morgan Chunn, a sophomore choral education student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the sophomore women division. Connor Goad, a sophomore music student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division and the lower music theatre division. Kassie Johnsen, a junior music theory and composition student of Dr. Maggie Garrett, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Justin, Texas – Ashley Bundy, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Katy, Texas – Betsy Wilson, a senior musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the senior women division and the upper music theatre division.

Lewisville, Texas –Hannah Bowen, a sophomore choral music education student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the sophomore women division.

Little Rock, Ark. – Jalin Wesley, a sophomore musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division. Natalie Williams, a freshman music theory and composition student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division and the lower music theatre division.

Manassas, Va. – Rebecca Johnson, a sophomore music student of John Briggs, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

North Little Rock, Ark. – Mattie Bogoslavsky, a freshman musical theatre student of John Briggs, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Pine Bluff, Ark. – Jacob Sturgeon, a senior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Plano, Texas – MaryLacey Thomson, a senior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Roanoke, Texas – Bekah Anthony, a senior vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the senior women division and the upper music theatre division.

Rodgers, Ark. – John Doss, a sophomore music theory and composition student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the sophomore men division.

Royal, Ark. – Tim Cooper, a freshman worship arts student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the freshman men division and the lower music theatre division.

Russellville, Ark. – Mollie Taylor, a freshman choral music education student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semifinalist in the freshman women division. Tyler Wisdom, a sophomore musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Sanger, Texas – Alyssa Reynolds, a senior music student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Sherwood, Ark. – Victoria Mantooth, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semifinalist in the junior women division.

Shreveport, La. – Alison Johnson, a senior musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Springdale, Ark. – Lola McClendon, a senior musical theatre student of David Stanley, was a semifinalist in the upper music theatre division.

Texarkana, Texas – Tara Clem, a freshman musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Van Buren, Ark. – Jessica Smith, a sophomore musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Ouachita students were accompanied by the following OBU staff accompanists: Glenda Aldridge, John Briggs, Terri Lucas, Louis Menedez, Susan Monroe, Jillian Turner and Phyllis Walker.

The OBU voice faculty who worked with Ouachita students to prepare for this conference include: Dr. Tom Bolton, adjunct professor of music; John Briggs, adjunct professor of music; Dr. Maggie Garrett, assistant professor of music; Suzetta Glenn, lecturer of music; Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music; Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music; David Stanley, instructor of music; and Robin Williams, vocal music lecturer.

For more information about NATS or Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

February 25th, 2013 

Ouachita Baptist University senior Rachel Harris won first place for her performance in the 15th annual Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers Feb. 19.

2013 Shambarger Competition winners with (L-R) judges Josh Shaw and Jessica Gartman Bubbus: Hannah Garner, honorable mention; Chad Burris, 4th place; Nicole Mattson, 3rd place; Rachel Harris, 1st place; and Caitlin Secrest, 2nd place. Photo by James Wood.

2013 Shambarger Competition winners with (L-R) judges Josh Shaw and Jessica Gartman Bubbus: Hannah Garner, honorable mention; Chad Burris, 4th place; Nicole Mattson, 3rd place; Rachel Harris, 1st place; and Caitlin Secrest, 2nd place. Photo by James Wood.

“As usual, the competition brought out the very best in our OBU voice principals,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music and coordinator of OBU’s Vocal Studies Program. “This event creates motivation, hard work and artistic energy among those who choose to be involved. I am continually amazed at the level of confidence and performance savvy demonstrated by our singers.”

Harris, a senior musical theatre and vocal performance major from Springdale, Ark., was awarded $500 for her first place finish. She performed “My Party Dress” from Henry and Mudge by Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk. Phyllis Walker, coordinator of staff accompanists, accompanied Harris’ performance.

“I consider winning to be a very humbling experience because I have great respect for the talents of each and every one of my peers who competed,” Harris said. “First place could have gone to any one of the other performers and it would have been well deserved. Winning the 15th annual Shambarger Competition is a wonderful way to begin my last semester as a Ouachitonian. In short, I feel very blessed.”

Second place and $300 was awarded to Caitlin Secrest, a junior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., who performed “Glitter and Be Gay” from Candide by Leonard Bernstein. Phyllis Walker accompanied Secrest’s performance as well.

Third place and $200 was awarded to Nicole Mattson, a junior musical theatre major from Rowlett, Texas, who sang “Alto’s Lament” from The Marcy and Zina Show by Zina Goldrich. Louis Menendez, principle coach and artist-in-residence, accompanied Mattson’s performance.

Fourth place and $100 was awarded to Chad Burris, a sophomore musical theatre major from Van Buren, Ark., who performed “Last One Picked” from Whoop De Doo! by Howard Crabtree. Burris was accompanied by Phyllis Walker.

An honorable mention and $50 was awarded to Hannah Garner, a senior vocal performance major from Saginaw, Mich., who performed “I’ll Be Here” from Ordinary Days by Adam Gwon and was accompanied by Susan Monroe, staff accompanist.

The competition, which features rotating repertoires, is held in honor of Mary Shambarger, professor emerita of music at Ouachita who served as a faculty member for 32 years. This year’s repertoire included musical theatre selections, and 38 students competed. Adjudication was provided by Ouachita alumni Jessica Gartman Bubbus and Josh Shaw. In addition to Menendez, Monroe and Walker, accompanists for the competition included John Briggs and Terri Lucas.

For more information about the Mary Shambarger Competition, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

By Rachel Gregory

For immediate release
Ouachita to host statewide NATS vocal competition and conference Feb. 22-23
By Taylor Tomlinson
February 11, 2013
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—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.

More than 300 students from across the state will attend the event and more than 35 singing teachers will be in attendance.

“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.”

For more information, visit www.natssouthern.com or contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

For immediate release
Ouachita to host 15th annual Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers Feb. 19
By Rachel Gregory
February 6, 2013
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-580

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Ouachita Baptist University will host the 15th annual Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. in the W. Francis McBeth Recital Hall of Mabee Fine Arts Center.

The competition is named in honor of Mary Shambarger, professor emerita of music at Ouachita who served as a faculty member for 32 years. Shambarger formed the women’s choral group the Ouachitones, which later was restructured as Ouachita Sounds, a group including men and women. When she retired in 1998, Shambarger was the Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music and had served as a voice instructor and directed multiple choral groups throughout the years.

The competition features rotating repertoires, including: musical theatre selections, which will be this year’s category; arias from opera and oratorio, scheduled for 2014; and art songs, in 2015. Only Ouachita voice principals who are in their fourth semester of study or beyond are eligible to enter the competition.

“We are expecting numerous student entries because everyone enjoys participating in the musical theatre classification,” said Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music. “If you have never attended the competition, this would be a great one to experience. It will be an entertaining afternoon and you will be amazed by the level of competition.”

A cash prize of $500 will be awarded to the first place winner. Other cash awards include: second place, $300; third place, $200; fourth place, $100; and honorable mention, $50.

Judges for this year’s competition include: Jessica Bubbus, a 2006 Ouachita alumna and former winner of the Shambarger Competition; Joshua Shaw, a 2001 Ouachita alumnus and featured guest artist and master teacher for the upcoming Arkansas National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference and Auditions; and Dr. Charles Wright, professor emeritus of music and former dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts.

Faculty accompanists include: John Briggs, adjunct voice instructor and staff accompanist; Terri Lucas, staff accompanist; Louis Menendez, principal coach accompanist and artist-in-residence; Susan Monroe, staff accompanist; and Phyllis Walker, coordinator of staff accompanists.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Swiontek receives Encouragement Award at regional Metropolitan Opera auditions

February 4, 2013

Ouachita Baptist University senior Bethany Swiontek received an Encouragement Award at this year’s Arkansas District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held recently at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Bethany Swiontek

Swiontek, a musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., along with two other participants, received the award and a financial stipend from the Opera Club of Little Rock. According to the Arkansas District Auditions program, the purpose of the award is to “provide encouragement to those singers who show great potential but were not chosen to move to the regional auditions.”

When it was announced that Swiontek had received the award, she said she was “so incredibly shocked that I kind of stood there for a second before I realized, ‘Oh, it wasn’t a mistake!’”

“Bethany came to OBU with a solid foundation in singing and an already shimmering stage presence,” said Dr. Margaret Garrett, assistant professor of music and Swiontek’s voice teacher. “She has a rare aptitude for singing. … I was thrilled when I found out that she had been given an Encouragement Award.”

Swiontek was one of 18 competitors at the event, including Ouachita student Caitlin Secrest, a junior vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., and OBU alumna Grace Johnson. Singers were required to prepare five opera arias of different styles and languages, including English, French, German and Italian.

Swiontek sang “Oh, Robert, Robert” from Robert le diable by Giacomo Meyerbeer for her first piece. The judges chose her second piece, “Ach, ich, fühl’s” from Die Zauberflöte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, from the list she submitted. Her vocal coach, Louis Menendez, accompanied her.

Opera singers and directors Dean Anthony, Caroll Freeman and Eric Halfvarson judged the auditions. They were “incredibly kind and gave me some very valuable advice to apply, not only to my singing right now, but to my future singing as well,” Swiontek said. “There is nothing more encouraging than hearing you’re doing and learning things correctly from directors and performers who are doing that very thing with their lives right now.”

“She is very confident in her abilities as a musical theater performer, and I think receiving this award has given her a much-needed confidence boost in her capabilities as a performer of classical music as well,” Garrett said. “Being able to sing in a wide variety of styles can help open doors to performing opportunities for her in the future.”

While at Ouachita, Swiontek has performed the roles of Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone, the Witch in Hansel and Gretel and will play Dolly in the upcoming Hello, Dolly!, as well as several nonmusical roles. She is a two-time nominee for the Irene Ryan Musical Theater Award, participated in the “Broadway Comes to Denver” summer program and was a first place winner in the 2011 Mid-South Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Auditions.

For more information, contact Dr. Margaret Garrett at garrettm@obu.edu or (870) 245-5271.

By Ryleigh Salmon


Jacob Watson, OBU alum, wins inaugural NATS National Music Theater Competition
By Brooke Zimny
August 1, 2012
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ORLANDO, Fla.—Jacob Keith Watson, a 2011 Ouachita Baptist University alumnus and Wynne, Ark., native, won first prize in the inaugural National Music Theater Competition held by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). The finals of the competition were held June 30 at the 52nd annual NATS National Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Watson advanced through three rounds of competition and approximately 300 competitors to claim the first place award. As part of his first place finish, Watson was awarded $5,000 cash, a featured concert at next year’s NATS national conference, a $1,000 gift certificate from the Hal Leonard Corporation, a Stage Stars recording package valued at $240 and a Career Management Services package from Stage Door Access.

“For me personally, it was one of the highlights of my career as a singing teacher to be present for Jacob’s performance and to hear his name read as the winner,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of vocal studies and Watson’s vocal instructor at OBU.

“He represented OBU so beautifully,” Secrest added, “with a passion for performance and an elite level of accomplishment as a singer and an actor that will no doubt carry him throughout his wonderful career.”

NATS has historically sponsored a competition for classical singers that takes placeonce every two years, with cash prizes and performing opportunities awarded to the winners. “This year, at the urging of many of the member teachers whose particular interests lie in the realm of music theater, NATS sponsored the first-ever performance competition for students in this area,” Secrest said.

Jacob Watson (left) won first place in the inaugural NATS National Music Theater Competition. Watson is seen here with second place winner Billy Marshall Jr. and third place winner Linedy Genao.

“Music theater performance is ever increasing in popularity, both in the professional world and in university vocal programs across the nation,” he noted. “The OBU School of Fine Arts, the Division of Music and the Department of Theatre Arts celebrate the profound importance and historical significance of our alumnus, Jacob Keith Watson, as winner of the first place award in this inaugural event.”

The competition began in May with preliminary auditions in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and online. Twenty-two semifinalists were selected to compete in Orlando, and six competitors were chosen to compete in the finals.

In the final round of competition, Watson performed “Streets of Dublin” from A Man of No Importance, “What Is It about Her?” from The Wild
Party, “How Glory Goes” from Floyd Collins, “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” from Guys and Dolls.

Watson also earned second prize in the prestigious Lotte Lenya Competition earlier thisyear, a competition sponsored by the Kurt Weill Foundation for young artists who specialize in both opera and music theater. He is currently a member of the Janiec Opera Company at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina.
For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

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Ouachita alum Jacob Watson second place winner in Lenya Competition!!!
 
Matthew Grills, Justin Hopkins, Jacob Keith Watson and Megan Marino named winners

2012 Lenya Competition winners

Matthew Grills, tenor, of Rochester, N.Y, won the $15,000 First Prize in the finals of the 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition, held on April 21, 2012, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. In a close contest, Justin Hopkins, bass-baritone of Philadelphia, and Jacob Keith Watson, tenor of Wynne, Ark., tied for Second Prizes of $10,000, and Megan Marino, mezzo-soprano of Malvern, Penn., was awarded the Third Prize of $7,500.

This is the first time that the top prize in both the Lotte Lenya Competition and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions was won by the same contestant, Matthew Grills, who was one of the five 2012 Met Auditions Grand Winners. While the Met Auditions, as well as most other singing competitions, focus primarily on vocal beauty and power, the Lotte Lenya Competition is unique in its equal emphasis on singing and acting. Contestants must present fully acted, idiomatic performances of repertoire ranging from opera to contemporary musical theater. At the Lenya Competition finals, Grills transitioned with ease from a performance of “Ah, mes amis” from Donizetti’s La fille du Régiment–an aria with nine high Cs–to a powerfully acted rendition of “If I Didn’t Believe in You” from Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. The other prize winners also presented exceptionally strong performances of repertoire ranging from Mozart, Rossini, Lehár and Weill to William Finn, Andrew Lippa and Stephen Sondheim.

llc2012judgesJudges for the competition were three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, Broadway and Encores! music director Rob Berman, and Theodore S. Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Chairman of the Board of the American Theater Wing.

The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, which sponsors the competition, distributed a record $58,500 in prizes this year. In addition to the top prizes, judges presented two Lys Symonette Awards of $3,000 each, named in honor of Kurt Weill’s musical assistant on Broadway. For her performance of Weill’s “Le train du ciel,” soprano Natalie Ballenger of Santa Cruz, Calif., received an award for Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number, and soprano Maria Failla of Scarsdale, N.Y., received one for Extraordinary Promise as a Singing Actor / Acting Singer. The remaining six finalists each received a total award of $1,000: Christine Amon, mezzo-soprano, of Bowling Green, Ohio; Douglas Carpenter, baritone, of Woodbridge, Conn.; Briana Elyse Hunter, soprano, of New York; Cecelia Ticktin, mezzo-soprano, of Roosevelt, N.J.; Mollie Vogt-Welch, soprano/belt, of New York; and Nicky Wuchinger, bari-tenor of Berlin, Germany.

llc2012symonetteInaugurated in 1998 to celebrate the centenary of Lenya’s birth, the Lotte Lenya Competition is an international theater singing contest that recognizes talented young singer/actors, ages 19-30, who are dramatically and musically convincing in a wide range of repertoire. For the 2012 competition, each contestant presented a diverse program that included an aria from the opera or operetta repertoire; two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one from the pre-1968 “Golden Age” and one from 1968 or later); and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. After a preliminary round of auditions by video submission, twelve finalists were selected from a group of twenty-nine semi-finalists who auditioned in New York City for adjudicator/coaches Victoria Clark and Vicki Shaghoian.

The Lenya Competition will celebrate its 15th Anniversary in 2013. Since its inception, the Kurt Weill Foundation has awarded young singers more than $450,000. Previous winners’ current and upcoming professional performances include roles on Broadway (Kyle Barisich, Morgan James, Analisa Leaming) and at Arena Stage (Justin Lee Miller); Westport Country Playhouse (Erik Liberman); The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park (Cooper Grodin); Florida Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Oper Leipzig (Jonathan Michie); Hamburg State Opera (Rebecca Jo Loeb); the Glimmerglass Festival (Noah Stewart); Opera Theater of St. Louis (Liam Bonner); Wolftrap Opera (Margaret Gawrysiak); and Lyric Opera of Chicago (Rodell Rosel).

Originally posted: 23 April 2012
© 2012 The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. All rights reserved.

Ouachita to present “The Drowsy Chaperone” April 19-22
By Breanne Goodrum
April 2, 2012
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208
ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Division of Music will present The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical within a comedy that pays homage to the golden age of musical theatre. Performances will be held in Jones Performing Arts Center on Ouachita’s campus at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 19-21, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 22. Tickets are $10 each.

“The Drowsy Chaperone is truly one of the wittiest, craziest shows I have ever gotten a chance to direct,” said Daniel Inouye, OBU assistant professor of theatre arts and director of the production. “I also love this show because of how genuinely funny the material is as well as the wonderful opportunity the show gives to our young actors to play broad, quirky characters.”

The show, which is accompanied by a live orchestra, begins with a die-hard musical comedy fan dusting off his favorite cast album, a 1928 smash hit called The Drowsy Chaperone. The album magically bursts to life in his apartment and the audience is immersed in the glamorous, comical tale of a celebrity bride and her hilarious wedding day.

“This is certainly going to be one fantastic and memorable show for people of all ages, and I know that our audiences will easily fall just as much in love with the characters and the story as we have,” said Bethany Swiontek, a senior musical theatre major from Colorado Springs, Colo., who stars as Janet Vand de Graff.

“I think our cast really enjoys being able to put our own personal touch on the story,” Swiontek added, calling the show “pure fun. … The songs and dances leave you not only wanting more but also wanting to jump right in and join the fun in the musical.”

Sincereturning to school in January, members of the cast and crew have been working diligently. The cast as a whole is incredibly strong and gifted,” Swiontek said. “Each person brings something different to this show and in their own unique way adds to its intoxicating and contagious charisma.”

Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music, serves as the show’s musical director and publicity supervisor. Grace Whitaker, a recent OBU graduate from Hillsboro,Texas, serves as choreographer for the production. Mary Handiboe, OBU associate professor of theatre arts, serves as costume designer for the show, and Eric Phillips, OBU professor of theatre arts, serves as technical director and scenic designer. Also assisting with light and sound design is Joey Licklider, manager of Jones Performing Arts Center.

Lead members of the cast include Swiontek; Ben Stidham, a freshman musical theatre major from Dallas, Texas, as Robert Martin; Garrett Whitehead, a sophomore musical theatre major from Cleburne, Texas, as George; Stewart Kelly, a junior church music major from Keller, Texas, as Feldzeig; Gabi Baltzley, a sophomore musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., and Caitlin Secrest, a juniorvocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., are double cast as Kitty; Heather White, a senior musical theatre major from Houston, Texas, as Mrs. Tottendale; Cody Myers, a junior psychology and musical theatre double major from Van Buren, Ark., as Underling; Joel Rogier, a junior vocal performancemajor from Glen Carbon, Ill., as Aldolpho; Shay Michael, a senior musical theatre major from Grapevine, Texas, and Hannah Garner, a junior vocal performance major from Saginaw, Mich., are double cast as the Chaperone; Ben Perry, a junior musical theatre major from North Little Rock, Ark., Robby Taylor, a freshman musical theatre major from Harriman, Tenn., and Jalin Wesley, a freshman musical theatre major from Little Rock, Ark., will play the Gangsters; Ashley Bundy, a sophomore vocal performance major from Justin, Texas, and Lola McClendon, a senior musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., are double cast as Trix the Aviatrix; and Joe Ochterbeck, a sophomore theatre arts major from Maumelle, Ark., will play the Superintendent.

Members of the chorus include: Timothy Drennan, a sophomore musical theatre major from Paron, Ark.; Truett Dishman, a freshman musical theatre major from Devine, Texas; Kayla Esmond, a junior musical theatre major from Burleson, Texas; Gemma Guiomard, a senior musical theatre major from DeSoto, Texas; Shannon Huntsman, a freshman speech communication and theatre major from Little Rock, Ark.; Alison Johnson, a senior musical theatre major from Shreveport, La.; DeCarlJones, a sophomore vocal performance major from Rowlett, Texas; Nicole Mattson, a sophomore musical theatre major from Rowlett, Texas; Amanda Murray, a senior musical theatre major from Racine, Wis.; Alexis Pace, a senior musical theatre major from Sugar Land, Texas; Moriah Patterson, a senior musical theatre major from Sheridan, Ark.; Blaine Surber, a freshman musical theatre major from Sulphur Springs, Texas; MaryLacey Thomson, a sophomore musical theatre major from Plano, Texas; Betsy Wilson, a junior musical theatre major from Fairmont, Neb.; and Tyler Wisdom, a freshman musical theatre major from Russellville,Ark.

In addition to what the audience sees on the stage, there are more jobs to be done behind the scenes. Students cast in the production, along with the main production crew do work outside of the spotlight to get the show ready for its main performance.

TylerHerron, a junior theatre arts major from Rosston, Ark., serves as the show’s stage manager. C.J. Bernard, a sophomore theatre arts major from Sherwood, Ark. and Sarah Davis, a junior theatre arts major from Bedford, Texas,serve as the show’s assistant stage managers. Breanne Goodrum, a junior mass communications and sociology majorfrom Fort Smith, Ark., serves as publicity manager. Kathryn Kellogg, a senior musical theatre and mass communications major from Sherwood, Ark., and Rachel Harris, a senior musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., will coordinate lobby décor and ushers. Moriah Patterson, a senior musical theatre major from Sheridan, Ark., will assist as dance captain. Lacey Johnson, a junior history major from Rancho Nuevo, Calif., will lead the costume crew. Alison Smith, a freshman musical theatre and psychology double major from Jonesboro, Ark., and Brooke Brackett, a sophomore musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., are hair and makeup crew coordinators. Jordan Miller, a junior musical theatre major from Rockwall, Texas, and Brooke Ault, a senior musical theatre majorfrom Little Rock, Ark., are properties crew coordinators. Cami Willis, a freshman musical theatre major from Flower Mound, Texas, serves as sound shifting crew head and will take a lead role with lighting and video projections.

The Drowsy Chaperone debuted in 1998 in Toronto and opened on Broadway in 2006. The book was written by Bob Martin and Don McKellar, and the music and lyrics are by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. In 2006, it won five Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score.

Tickets are $10 per person and may be purchased by visiting or calling the JPAC box office weekdays from 1-5 p.m. or may be purchased online at www.obu.edu/boxoffice. OBU students receive one free ticket with their student IDs. For more information, contact the box office at (870) 245-5563 from 1-5 p.m. Weekdays.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” by Marshall-Pope

Grace Johnson, Ouachita senior, named finalist in
Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase
By Nicci Fillinger
March 16, 2012

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University student Grace Johnson will compete as a finalist in the Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase sponsored by the Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Ark., on Sunday, April 1 at 6 p.m.  Three other Ouachita students received honorable mentions in the competition. The showcase is free and open to the public.

Grace Johnson

Johnson, a senior vocal performance major from Tyler, Texas, was selected as one of five finalists in the competition. She is a student of Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music. Johnson received a $500 award for being selected as a finalist and has the opportunity to win an additional $1,000 at the Showcase Final.

“I feel very honored to have been selected,” Johnson said. “It is a huge blessing! I’m excited to perform the music that I’ve been working so hard on again and that I get to represent Ouachita in this competition.”

The five finalists include Johnson; Qiao Mei (Anna) Cheng, a pianist from the University of Central Arkansas; Darren Drone, a singer from Arkansas Tech University; Andreas Oestes, an oboe player from the University of Central Arkansas; andRebecca Rollene, a singer from John Brown University.

In the showcase, each finalist will present a 12-minute performance. A panel of guest judgeswill review the performances and select the overall winner. OBU graduate Jacob Watson, the winner of last year’s competition, will perform after intermission.

Johnson will perform “La Danza” by Rossini, “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka by Dvořák and “Hello! Oh, Margaret, It Is You!” from The Telephone by Menotti.

“Grace continues the strong showing of finalists being selected from OBU,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music and coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program. Ouachita students have won the competition two years in a row with Jacob Watson winning in 2011 and Kyle Huey winning in 2010. In addition, OBU graduate Elisabeth Hipp was selected as a finalist both years.

Three OBU students also were selected this year as honorable mention recipients. Alexis Pace, a junior musical theatre major from Sugar Land, Texas; Joel Rogier, a sophomore vocal performance major from Glen Carbon, Ill.; and Caitlin Secrest, a sophomore vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., were chosen among the 11 artists recognized with honorable mentions.

“The quality of the musicianship displayed in the audition videos was truly outstanding,” said Robert Hughes, the showcase coordinator. “This made the process of choosing only five finalists very challenging.

“This year, in addition to male and female vocalists, we received applications from performers of the piano, oboe, cello, classical guitar, flute, marimba and tuba/euphonium,” he said. “This wide range of musical disciplines adds to the difficulty faced by the selection committee. Not only must they choose the best from within a genre (for example, the best female vocalist) but they must compare the talents, musicianship and potential performances across disciplines. They must pick ‘the best of the best’ to put together a showcase that will provide opportunity for the performers and an enjoyable evening’sentertainment for our patrons.”

For more information about the Collegiate Performance Showcase, visit www.tumclr.org. For ticket information, call (501) 377-1161.

Ouachita alum Jacob Watson named finalist in international vocal competition

By Nicci Fillinger
March 16, 2012
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University graduate Jacob Watson has been selected as a finalist in an international theatre singing competition that has sent winners on to play major roles on Broadway and perform with prestigious opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera.

The Lotte Lenya Competition, sponsored annually by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, is a renowned competition for young artists, ages 19-30, who specialize in singing both opera and musical theatre repertoire.

Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music and coordinator of Ouachita’s vocal studies program, said the competition is “among the most prestigious and significant of the vocal competitions held each spring.”

“This is a competition that I have wanted to be a part of since my freshman year at OBU,” Watson said.

“It’s a culmination of everything I’ve worked for at OBU – becoming the best storyteller I can in everything I do, whether it be opera or musical theatre,” he said. “It feels incredible to be recognized for that and to be given even more encouragement to keep growing and pushing myself even more.

“Ultimately, I want to do my absolute best and bring these characters and this music to life on stage,” Watson added. “I feel like I have already competed on an extremely high level, and I want to push myself to get to an even higher level of performance for the next round.”

Being selected as a finalist in this competition has the potential to have a major impact on Watson’s future.

“I have heard the Lenya competition referred to as the MET auditions for crossover artists,” Secrest said. “Jacob will be heard and recognized by casting directors and musical dignitaries from throughout the world as a result of this honor. Itcould have an incredibly positive effect on his singing and acting career.”

Previous winners of the Lotte Lenya Competition perform regularly in major theaters,opera houses and concert halls around the globe.

Watson was selected to be one of 12 finalists from a group of 29 semi-finalists after auditions in New York March 9-10.

For the semi-final round of auditions, each contestant prepared four selections: anaria from the opera or operetta repertoire, two songs from the American musical theater repertoire (one from the pre-1968 “Golden Age” and one from 1968 or later) and a theatrical selection by Kurt Weill. Watson performed Franz Lehar’s “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” from Das Land des Lachelns, Andrew Lippa’s “What Is It About Her?” from The Wild Party, Frank Loesser’s “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat” from Guys and Dolls and “Lonely House from Street Scene” by Kurt Weill.

Tony Award-winner Victoria Clark and Vicki Shaghoian of the Yale School of Drama faculty served as coach-adjudicators, evaluating and working with each of the contestants.

Finalists included Watson; Christine Amon, a mezzo-soprano from Bowling Green, Ohio; Natalie Ballenger, a soprano from Santa Cruz, Calif.; Douglas Carpenter, a baritone from Woodbridge, Conn.; Maria Failla, a soprano from Scarsdale, N.Y.; Matthew Grills, a tenor from Rochester, N.Y.; Justin Hopkins, a bass-baritone from Philadelphia, Pa.; Briana Elyse Hunter, a soprano from New York, N.Y.;Megan Marino, a mezzo-soprano from Malvern, Pa.; Cecelia Tickton, a mezzo-soprano from Roosevelt, N.J.; Mollie Vogt-Welch, a soprano/belt from New York, N.Y.; and Nicky Wuchinger, a bari-tenor from Berlin, Germany.

These talented artists will compete for top prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $7,500 in the finals, to be held on April 21, 2012, at the Eastman School of Music inRochester, N.Y. Three-time Tony Award nominee Rebecca Luker, Broadway and Encores! music director Rob Berman andRodgers & Hammerstein Organization President and American Theater Wing Chairman of the Board Theodore S. Chapin will serve as judges.

The twelve finalists will perform their entire programs for the judges on April 21 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. At 8 p.m., the competition will culminate in an evening concert featuring all of the finalists, followed by the announcement of thewinners. Both the daytime finals and evening concert are free and open to the public and will be held in Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

For more information about the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, visit http://www.kwf.org/.


Seven Ouachita students named finalists at Arkansas NATS auditions
By Lara Overman
March 2, 2012
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. —Seven Ouachita Baptist University students were named finalists and 14 others were named semi-finalists last weekend in the annual Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) auditions held at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

“The National Association of Teachers of Singing is an organization whose goal is to promote elite singing and quality teaching,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program and professor of music. “It assists them in developing their artistry, their skill set and confidence for performing and more fully informs them of the requirements for elite vocalism.”

“To get jobs in the performing world, you have to audition and you have to do it frequently,” said Rachel Harris, who placed first in the upper musical theatre division. “Knowing how to audition well is key to succeeding in the world of performance.”

“The results show that OBU continues to enjoy success in terms of educating and training voice principals who are pursuing professional music degrees in the Division of Music,” Secrest said.

Staff accompanists John Briggs, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker accompanied Ouachita’s students on piano for the auditions.

The following students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arlington, Texas
—Xavier Lagunas, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned second place in the senior men division and fourth place in the upper music theatre division.

Garland, Texas—Meredith Martin, a sophomore choral music education and vocal performance student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, earned second place in the sophomore women division and third place in the lower music theatre division.

Glen Carbon, Ill.—Joel Rogier, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned second place in the sophomore men division. Rogier was also a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Grapevine, Texas—Shay Michael, a senior music theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned third place in the upper music theatre division.

Springdale, Ark.—Rachel Harris, a senior musical theatre and vocal performance student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, earned firstplace in the upper music theatre division. Harris was also a semi-finalist in the senior women division.

Sungai Petani, Malaysia—John Tneoh, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned third place in the junior men division.

White Hall, Ark.—Bethany Gere, a freshman musical theatre student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, earned second place in the freshman women division and second place in the lower music theatre division.

 The following students were NATS semi-finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark.­—Caitlin Secrest, a sophomore vocalperformance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest and Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women and the lower music theatre divisions.

Bella Vista, Ark.—Josh Wayne, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.

Carrollton, Texas—Christina Moon, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Fairmont, Neb.—Betsy Wilson, a junior musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in thejunior women and the upper music theatre divisions.

Fort Worth, TexasJillian Turner, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in thefreshman women and the lower music theatre divisions.

Hot Springs, Ark.Connor Goad, a freshman musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.Kassie Johnsen, a sophomore music theory/composition student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women division.

Justin, Texas—Ashley Bundy, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women division.

Roanoke, Texas—Bekah Anthony, a junior vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the junior women division.

Rogers, Ark.Mitchell Yost, a freshman vocal performance student of John Briggs, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.

Rowlett, Texas—Nicole Mattson, a sophomore musical theatre student of Robin Williams, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Sanger, Texas—Alyssa Reynolds, a junior music student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division.

Sherwood, Ark.—Victoria Mantooth, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women division.

Springdale, Ark.—Brooke Brackett, a sophomore musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.


Secrest wins Ouachita’s 14th annual Shambarger Competition for Singers
By Kaycee Giammarco
February 29, 2012

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Caitlin Secrest, a sophomore vocal performance major from Arkadelphia, Ark., was awarded first place in Ouachita Baptist University’s 2012 Shambarger Competition for Singers.

“It still hasn’t registered; I was completely shocked by the whole thing,” Secrest said. “I am honored that I came out on top for this one.”

Secrest earned first place and $500 for her performance of the art song “Il bacio,” composed by Luigi Arditi.

The Shambarger Competition, established in 1999 in honor of OBU Professor Emerita of Music Mary Shambarger, features a repertoire which rotates every three years. This year’s genre was art songs, which are classical pieces that are not from an opera or an oratorio. This year’s art song competition featured 17 singers from Ouachita’s vocal studies program.

“For a performer, any performance is a good one,” Secrest said. “I try to keep performing at all times. It’s a great way to get experience dealing with nerves.”

Secrest is taught by both Dr. Glenda Secrest, professor of music, and Dr. Jon Secrest,professor of music and coordinator of vocal studies.

“We prepare our students for this competition so that they can each be competitive, working towards the ‘total package,’” Dr. Glenda Secrest said. “Caitlin worked diligently, and it paid off.”

Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance major from Tyler, Texas, placed second in the competition.

“It’s great experience and practice,” Johnson said. “It helps you grow as a musician—plus it’s fun.”

Johnson earned second place and $300 for her performance of the art song “La Danza,” composed by Gioacchino Rossini.

“La Danza’ is a fast, competitive piece,” Johnson said. “It is very challenging and keeps you on your toes. It was nerve-wracking because I’ve never done this piece before.”

Johnson was coached by Dr. Jon Secrest and Louis Menendez.

“Dr. J helped me work on stage presence,” Johnson said. “He teaches technique and how to approach the work as a whole to make the best sounds possible.”

Meredith Martin, a sophomore choral music education major from Garland, Texas, earned third place and $200 for her performance of “Spring,” composed by Dominick Argento. Martin is a student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, assistant professor of music.

Rachel Harris, a senior vocal performance and musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., earned fourth place and $100 for her performance of “Alleluia,” composed by Ned Rorem. Harris is also a student of Garrett.

Xavier Lagunas, a senior musical theatre major from Arlington, Texas, and John Tneoh, a junior vocal performance major from Sungai Pentani, Thailand, earned an honorable mention and $50 each for their performances. Lagunas performed “O del mio amato ben,” composed by Stefano Donaudy. Tneoh performed “Le Manoir de Rosemonde,” composed by Henri Duparc. Lagunas is a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, and Tneoh is a student of Dr. Jon Secrest.

For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

 

Mary Shambarger (center) with the competition winners (L-R): Caitlin Secrest, 1st place; Grace Johnson, 2nd place; Meredith Martin, 3rd place; Shambarger; Rachel Harris, 4th place; and Xavier Lagunas and John Tneoh, honorable mention. photo by James Wood.

OBU alum Jacob Watson named district co-winner of Metropolitan Opera auditions
By Nicci Fillinger
January 27, 2012

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Jacob Watson, a fall 2011 Ouachita Baptist University graduate, recently was named the winner of the Arkansas District Auditions of the Metropolitan Opera National Council along with Kristin Lassiter from Dallas, Texas. As a district audition winner, Watson will move on to the next round of competition, the regional auditions, in February.

Each competitor prepared five operatic arias. They presented one aria of their choice, and the judges selected one additional aria from their list of five. Watson sang “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” from Das Land des Lächelns by Franz Lehar. The judges then selected “Questa o quella” from Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Winning this level of the competition “has definitely affected my future,” said Watson, a Wynne, Ark., native. “All through my career at OBU I focused on musical theatre (my first love) with only a secondary glance at opera. Working hard on my five arias all semester and winning this competition has shown me that I can have a future in opera as well.”

“Any award given during the audition circuit of the Metropolitan Opera National Council is extremely prestigious,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, Watson’s vocal coach at Ouachita. “The judges, nationally and internationally reputable performers and opera scholars with their own impressive credentials, select only the young singers who are demonstrating the most elite vocal skill set of those who perform. Even if Jacob advances no further in the competition, his award at the district level is quite an accomplishment.”

Describing the recognition as “quite an overwhelming feeling,” Watson said, “When I approach a competition, I try not to worry about the outcome. To me, it’s more about being on stage and creating at my top level. It was such a fun day full of great performances. Thefact that I won was definitely icing on the cake!”

Because winning the district auditions allows Watson to move on to the regional auditions, he said his post-graduation plans have changed.

“My original plan was to move to New York City in mid-February, but the next round of this competition is in mid-February so I’m staying in Arkansas for a little longer than expected,” Watson said. “My plan now is to see this competition through and to take any and every audition that is available to me in musical theatre, theatre and opera. Eventually, I plan to move to New York City. I’ve always felt called to move there. But all I can do now is work hard daily and the Lord will place me where He wants me.”

Watson will compete in the regional auditions on Feb. 11 at the Germantown Performing Arts Center in Memphis, Tenn. The two winners of the regional competition will receive awards of $1,500 each and will compete for the opportunity to move on to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City as a national semi-finalist.

OBU staff accompanist Phyllis Walker collaborated with Watson on his presentation. OBU coach accompanist Louis Menendez also played for 10 singers in the competition and assisted Watson in rehearsal. Ouachita seniors Rachel Harris, a vocal performance and musical theatre major from Springdale, Ark., and Grace Johnson, a vocal performancemajor from Tyler, Texas, also participated in the event and were accompanied by Walker.

For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Metropolitan Opera National Council district audition co-winners pose with the judges (L-R): judge Fred Potkin, co-winner Kristin Lassiter, judge Samuel Ramey, co-winner Jacob Watson and judge Jane Bunnell. photo courtesy Wayne Bryan, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Tri-Lakes Edition

Eleven Ouachita students named regional NATS finalists
By Nicci Fillinger
November 18, 2011

For more information, contact OBU’s News Bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Eleven Ouachita Baptist University students were named finalists last weekend in the annual Southern Region National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) auditions held at Mississippi College.

“The annual Southern Region Conference gives OBU students the opportunity to compete with the best NATS students from throughout Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi,” explained Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of OBU’s vocal studies program. “Along with the competitive aspect of the conference, our students are exposed to new repertoire, teaching techniques and artistic expression at the highest level available in our region.”

More than 500 singers from colleges and universities such as Ole Miss, Louisiana State University and Arkansas State Univeristy competed in the auditions.

“I love being able to simply perform,” said Bethany Swiontek, a junior musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett from Colorado Springs, Colo. “As singers and actors, we spend the majority of our time rehearsing, in the practice rooms and auditioning, so I love being given the opportunity to just perform.”

“What I enjoyed most about the conference would definitely be the many master classes and performances that I attended,” said Josh Wayne, a freshman vocal performance student of Jon Secrest from Bella Vista, Ark. Wayne who placed first in thefreshman men division. “It’s amazing to think of how much you can learn from watching and observing professional performances. Through experiencing them, I can take action to improve my own singing.”

Thirty-three OBU students participated in the conference auditions, with eight students choosing to complete in both the classical category and the music theatre category, for a total of forty-one entries from OBU. Staff accompanists John Briggs, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker accompanied Ouachita’s students on piano for the auditions.

“Only three of our school’s entries did not advance to the semi-final round, and we were blessed to have eleven finalists in this year’s competition,” Secrest said. Ouachita had the second largest number of finalists of all the participating universities; only Southern Mississippi University had more finalists than OBU.

“The results of this event are a testament to the hard work of our OBU voice principals, their wonderful accompanists and their teachers” Secrest added. “For a school our size to be consistently among the most noteworthy of participants is truly a blessing for the OBU School of Fine Arts, Division of Music and the VocalStudies Program.”

Xavier Lagunas, a senior musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest from Arlington,Texas, is a veteran NATS performer, having attended six NATS conferences throughout his time at OBU. “It definitely has helped me grow into a better, more confident performer and musician,” he said. “It feels good to know that through hard work and perseverance you can achieve great things.” Lagunas earned first place in the senior men division and fourth place in the upper division music theatre division.

The following students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arkadelphia, Ark. – Caitlin Secrest, a sophomore vocal performance student of Glenda and Jon Secrest, earned first place in the sophomore women division. Secrest also was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

 Arlington, Texas – Xavier Lagunas, a senior musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the senior men division and fourth place in the upper division music theatre division.

 Bella Vista, Ark. – Josh Wayne, a freshman vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned first place in the freshmen men division.

Colorado Springs, Colo. – Bethany Swiontek, a junior musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, earned the first place in the upper division music theatre division.

Dalworthington Gardens, Texas – Andrew Miller, a junior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned fourth place in the younger advanced men division.

DeSoto, Texas – Gemma Guiomard, a junior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, earned third place in the lower division music theatre division.

Grapevine, Texas – Shay Michael, a senior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, earned second place in the upper division music theatre division.

Justin, Texas – Ashley Bundy, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, earned fifth place in the sophomore women division.

 Sherwood, Ark. – Victoria Mantooth, a sophomore vocal performance student of Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the sophomore women division. Mantooth also was a semifinalist in the lower music theatre division.

Wynne, Ark. – Jacob Watson, a senior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, earned first place in the younger advanced men division.

The following students were NATS semi-finalists, in order of hometown:

Bentonville, Ark. – Maria Falcon, a freshman music education student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman womendivision.

Bryan, Texas – Alyssa Eskelsen, a junior music and business administration student of Steve Garner, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Carrollton, Texas – Christina Moon, a freshman vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Cleburne, Texas – Garrett Whitehead, a sophomore music theatre student of Steve Garner, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Dallas, Texas – Ben Stidham, a freshman musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Fort Worth, Texas – Jillian Turner, a freshman vocal performance student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division and in the lower music theatre division.

Garland, Texas – Lauren Casteel, a senior musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the upper musictheatre division. Emma Patterson, a sophomore musical education student of Steve Garner, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Glen Carbon, Ill. – Joel Rogier, a sophomore vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore men division and in the lower music theatre division.

Little Rock, Ark. – Brooke Ault, a senior musical theatre student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division. Gabi Baltzley, a sophomore musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

North Little Rock, Ark. – Ben Perry, a sophomore musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower musictheatre division.

Overland Park, Kan. – James Wood, a junior music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the junior men division.

Paron, Ark. – Tim Drennan, a sophomore musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower musictheatre division.

Saginaw, Mich. – Hannah Garner, a junior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the junior womendivision.

Sanger, Texas – Alyssa Reynolds, a music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division.

Springdale, Ark. – Rachel Harris, a senior musical theatre and vocal performance student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the senior women division.

Tyler, Texas – Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance student of Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the senior womendivision.

Van Buren, Ark. – Loren McDaniel, a freshman musical theatre student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division and in the lower music theatre division.

West Monroe, La. – Alayna Rutledge, a freshman church music student of Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshmanwomen division.

White Hall, Ark. – Bethany Gere, a freshman musical theatre student of Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower musictheatre division.

For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest, coordinator of Ouachita’s vocal studies program, at secrestj@obu.edu or (870)245-5134.

Elite opera program encourages Ouachita student in career pursuit
By Breanne Goodrum
September 12, 2011

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Caitlin Secrest, a sophomore vocal performance major at Ouachita Baptist University, surprised competitors by being the youngest participant selected for the prestigious 2011 Opera Works Emerging Artist Program held at Cal State University in Northridge, Calif., this summer.

Caitlin Secrest“When I first heard Caitlin’s audition DVD, I was impressed with her vocal maturity, her ease on stage and her artistry,” said Ann Baltz, founder and artistic director of OperaWorks. “It was clear that she was the caliber of performer we accept into OperaWorks.”

Secrest, an Arkadelphia native, was one of 32 performers selected to participate from a field of approximately 300 who auditioned. She was also accepted to participate in the highly competitive FestivalSouth Opera Program in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but ultimately chose to pursue the OperaWorks experience.

“I chose this program because it was set apart from the rest,” Secrest explained. “We worked on all aspects of performance and not just the technique. We were taught to get out of the box and become real communicators.”

The program educated participants in their chosen field of voice performance and offered tips about pursuing a career in the vocal arts.

“We focused not only on performance, but also on our portfolios, and the business side of professional singing. On the performance end, we were encouraged to be relaxed, free and open on stage,” Secrest said. “ Classes like yoga and movement taught us to really let go.  As musicians, sometimes we are so wrapped up in being perfect we forget to be real. The audience wants to see real people on stage.”

Along with taking classes, Secrest found time to build great friendships with fellow participants. The 32-member group encouraged one another both with constructive criticism and praise. “When you were given a compliment, you knew you really deserved it,” Secrest said.

While focusing on the professional and personal aspects of the program, Secrest made a point to keep a positive attitude, knowing that the weeks with other artists would create opportunities to provide an example of her faith, and challenges to it as well.  Opera Works
“Some of the world of music is full of selfishness and a focus on personal gain,” Secrest said, “so by going into the experience with a mission mindset, I shared what God has done for me personally. By building these relationships, I could then share witness of this when I was questioned by the other participants.”

“Her enthusiastic and bubbly personality, her intense curiosity and her absolute commitment to being better was inspiring and positively affected the entiregroup’s personality,” Baltz noted. “Caitlin is terrifically talented in all the right ways, and it was a real honor to be part of her life and early career.”

“She has a heart for the Lord,” said Dr. Glenda Secrest, Caitlin’s mother and OBU professor of music. “She is the real thing, full of energy and a wonderful personality. She has a true passion for music, and I believe that God is affirming her decisions and rewarding her faithfulness and use of her gifts.

“We have team taught her voice lessons since her sophomore year of high school, but we encouraged her to look around at other schools and be certain she found theright fit for her,” Dr. Glenda Secrest said. “She chose to enroll here at Ouachita so that she could continue her training with us.”

“Through her prayerful decisions, in her singing and each choice she has made, we’ve tried to impress on her that no matter what she does, God will guide her footsteps,” added her father, Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music. “Her acceptance into both of these programs is a perfect example of that guidance and affirmation.”

Back in the midst of everyday life at Ouachita, Secrest said the program continues to influence her studies and her outlook on life. “This was a life changing experience,” she said. “Not only did it transform my performing, it impacted my view of others. I view fellow artists differently now and see so much beauty in them. I know this view will continue to evolve and grow.”

Ouachita student Jacob Watson places first in Trinity Presents Showcase
By Breanne Goodrum
April 7, 2011

For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Ouachita Baptist University student Jacob Watson, a senior musical theatre major from Wynne, Ark., was declared the winner of the fourth annual Trinity Presents Collegiate Performance Showcase held recently at Trinity United Methodist Church in Little Rock.

“I truly feel blessed to have won this competition this year, I did not expect to win at all,” Watson said. “My main goal was just to go on stage and perform my songs to the best of my abilities and have a blast while doing so.” He is a student of Dr. Jon Secrest, OBU professor of music.

Five finalists were selected to compete in the Trinity competition, including two Ouachita voice students. The other finalists included two from Arkansas Tech University and one from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

The finalists were awarded $500 each for making it into the final round of the competition, and Watson received an additional $1,000 for being named the overall winner.

“The fact that I was rewarded for having reached my goals was an unbelievable blessing and brought a lot of joy into my life,” Watson said. “I already have a savings account started where most of my monetary winnings have been going for a while. It’s a savings account for one of the most important things in the career of an actor/singer … rent money.”

Elisabeth Hipp, a senior vocal performance major from Memphis, Tenn., was the other Ouachita finalist. She is a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, OBU professor of music.

“I honestly thought Elisabeth was going to win,” Watson said. “She’s such an incredible performer, and I was truly shocked when they made the announcement after the recitals.

“Elisabeth is my best friend and supporter,” Watson added. “She’s encouraged me with my practicing for voice and theatre to try and reach my full potential as an artist.”

Watson’s portion of the program included “The Streets of Dublin” from A Man of No Importance, “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George, “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” from Guys and Dollsand “Dein is mein ganzes Herz” from Das Land des Lachelns. Phyllis Walker served as accompanist for Watson and Hipp during the showcase.

“My voice teacher, Dr. J, and I sat down and really wanted to plan a program that would show me at my best,” said Watson.

The judging panel included: Cliff Baker, director and CEO of the Wildwood Park for the Arts; Edward J. Crafts, associate professor of voice and opera at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Christine Donohue, assistant professor of voice at the University of Central Arkansas; Philip Mann, the newly appointed music director of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; and Dr. Barry McVinney, chair of fine arts and instructor of music at Pulaski Technical College.

Six students were also recognized as Honorable Mention winners, and Ouachita student Emily Joy Tucker, a sophomore piano performance major from Hot Springs, Ark., was invited to perform a 10-12 minute showcase during the competition. This was the first time an honorable mention performer was asked to present at the competition. Tucker is a student of Dr. Ouida Keck, OBU’s Addie Mae Maddox Professor of Music.

For more information about the Collegiate Performance Showcase, visit www.tumclr.org. For more information about Ouachita’s vocal studies program, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Thirteen Ouachita students named finalists at state NATS auditions
By Meg Gosser
March 11, 2011
For more information contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu
or at (870) 245- 5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Thirteen Ouachita Baptist University students were recently named finalists in the annual Arkansas state National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) auditions held at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

“NATS is a wonderful experience to go through when you put in the time and effort it requires, which means practice, practice, practice,” said Victoria Mantooth, a freshman vocal performance from Sherwood, Ark. Mantooth, a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, placed second in the freshman women division. “The opportunity of watching some of the very best vocal students from all across the state was a huge motivation to work a lot harder.”

“Placing at NATS reenergizes my desire to practice,” said Rachel Harris, a junior musical theatre and vocal performance major from Springdale, Ark. “Sometimes you hit a wall in your performing life when you feel like you are not getting better. Placing at NATS is a wonderful motivator to help you push past that wall, which in turn makes you a better performer.” Harris, a student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, placed second in the junior women division.

Thirty-eight Ouachita voice principals participated in the auditions with competitors from more than 10 public and private universities across the state.

“This particular accomplishment has given me more self-respect, confidence and an eagerness for learning more about music and the voice and has proven to me that hard work really does pay off,” said Alyssa Reynolds, a sophomore vocal performance major from Sanger, Texas. “This has given me a renewed hunger for developing my skills and talents as a musician, vocalist and student. This is just the beginning of all that I am going to learn and experience here at OBU.” Reynolds, a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the lower music theatre division.

Elisabeth Hipp, a senior vocal performance major from Memphis, Tenn., agreed. “It’s always exciting to find out your number is in the semi-finals and then finals and then finally to be named the first-place winner,” she said. “There was a lot of great singing so I am definitely honored to have won.” Hipp, also a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the senior women’s division.

“I was extremely excited when I heard my name called for finals. I’m very encouraged by this accomplishment,” said Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance and theatre major from Tyler, Texas. “When you succeed at NATS, it helps confirm that you’re in the right major and are going about it the right way. This motivates me because I did well, but I know I can do even better. My goal is to do my very best; now I have something even better to strive for next time.” Johnson, a student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned third place in the junior women division.

The following students were NATS finalists, in order of hometown:

Arlington, Texas—Xavier Lagunas, a junior musical theatre student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the junior men division and third place in the upper music theatre division.

Arkadelphia, Ark.—Caitlin Secrest, a freshman vocal performance student of Drs. Glenda and Jon Secrest, earned first place in the lower music theatre division and third place in the freshman women division.

Colorado Springs, Colo.—Bethany Swiontek, a junior musical theatre student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, earned second place in the sophomore women division and was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Dalworthington Gardens, Texas—Andrew Miller, a junior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the younger advanced men division.

Glen Carbon, Ill.—Joel Rogier, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the freshman men division.

Memphis, Tenn.—Elisabeth Hipp, a senior vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned first place in the senior women division.

Overland Park, Kan.—James Wood, a sophomore music and mass communications student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the sophomore men division.

Sanger, Texas—Alyssa Reynolds, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned third place in the lower music theatre division.

Sherwood, Ark.—Victoria Mantooth, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, earned second place in the freshman women division.

Springdale, Ark.—Rachel Harris, a junior musical theatre and vocal performance student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, earned second place in the junior women division.

Sungai Petani, Malaysia- John Tneoh, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the sophomore men division.

Tyler, Texas- Grace Johnson, a senior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned third place in the junior women divisionand wasa semi-finalist in upper music theatre division.

Wynne, Ark.—Jacob Watson, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, earned first place in the upper music theatre division.

The following students were also honored as NATS semi-finalists, in order of hometown:

Bryant, Ark.—Angela Morgan, a freshman musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

DeSoto, Texas—Gemma Guiomard, a freshman music theatre and studio art student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women and lower music theatre divisions.

Garland, Texas—Carolyn Baker, a freshman musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women and lower music theatre divisions. Lauren Casteel, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division. Meredith Martin, a freshman choral music education student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women and lower music theatre divisions.

Grapevine, Texas—Shay Michael, a junior music theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Hot Springs, Ark.—Houston Murray, a freshman choral music education student of Dr. Glenda Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men division.

Justin, Texas—Ashley Bundy, a freshman vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Little Rock, Ark.—Gabriela Baltzley, a freshman musical theatre student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Mesquite, Texas—Bailey Morris, a freshman choral music education student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the freshman women division.

Morrilton, Ark.—Joseph Hurst, a freshman music student of Mary Worthen, was a semi-finalist in the freshmen men division.

Racine, Wis.—Amanda Murray, a sophomore musical theatre student of Dr. Margaret Garrett, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Roanoke, Texas—Bekah Anthony, a sophomore church music student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women division.

Rowlett, Texas—DeCarl Jones, a freshman vocal performance student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Saginaw, Mich.—Hannah Garner, a sophomore vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the sophomore women division.

Searcy, Ark.—Lynley Vire, a senior musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the upper music theatre division.

Spotslyvania, Va.—Sean Wilson, a senior vocal performance student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the senior men division.

Springdale, Ark.—Brooke Brackett, a freshman musical theatre student of Suzetta Glenn, was a semi-finalist in the lower music theatre division.

Whitehouse, Texas—Justin Ratliff, a freshman musical theatre student of Dr. Jon Secrest, was a semi-finalist in the freshman men and lower music theatre divisions.

The students were accompanied by John Briggs, Susan Monroe and Phyllis Walker. For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at secrestj@obu.edu or (870) 245-5134.

Hipp places first in Ouachita’s Shambarger Competition for third consecutive year
By Brooke Zimny
March 9, 2011
For more information, contact OBU’s news bureau at newsbureau@obu.edu or (870) 245-5208

ARKADELPHIA, Ark.—Elisabeth Hipp, a senior vocal performance major from Memphis, Tenn., placed first in Ouachita Baptist University’s recent Shambarger Competition for Singers. This is the third consecutive year Hipp has won the competition.

“This is the first time in the history of the competition that one student has won three years in a row,” said Dr. Glenda Secrest, Hipp’s singing teacher and OBU professor of music. “It is an incredible accomplishment, a true testimony to her fantastic work ethic—which really paid off!”

Hipp also acknowledged Secrest, saying, “I could not have done it without her. My whole tenure here at Ouachita, she has given me the tools to really go and succeed and excel. If it had not been for her, I would not have won these past three years. She is an incredible teacher.”

Hipp earned first place and a cash prize of $500 for her performance of “O luce di quest’anima” from Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Linda di chamounix.

The Shambarger Competition, established in 1999 in honor of OBU Professor Emerita of Music Mary Shambarger, features a repertoire that rotates annually among selections from musical theatre, art songs and arias from opera and oratorio. This year’s aria competition included 18 competitors from Ouachita’s vocal studies program.

“Being a part of Shambarger is really an honor,” Hipp said, “first of all because you really get to see the talent that I work with every day and people that I’m friends with. It really shows up in this competition because people work extremely hard to get their arias and pieces together.
“With arias, they take a lot more time to get in your voice,” she added. “Sometimes it just takes time to settle in and let the muscles figure everything out.”

Jacob Watson, a senior musical theatre major from Wynne, Ark., earned second place and $300 for his performance of “Dein ist mein ganzes herz” from Franz Lehár’s operetta Das Land des Lächelns. Watson is a student of Dr. Jon Secrest, professor of music and coordinator of vocal studies.

Maggie Taylor, a senior choral music education major from Russellville, Ark., earned third place and $200 for her performance of “Tu il cuor mi strazi” from Gioacchino Puccini’s opera Edgar. Taylor is a student of Mary Worthen, assistant professor of music.

Xavier Lagunas, a junior musical theatre major from Arlington, Texas, earned fourth place and $100 for his performance of “En ferment les yeux” from Jules Massenet’s opera Manon. Lagunas is a student of Dr. Glenda Secrest.

Andrew Miller, a senior vocal performance major from Dalworthington Gardens, Texas, earned honorable mention and $50 for his performance of “Look! Through the port comes the moon astray” from Benjamin Britten’s opera Billy Budd. Miller is a student of Dr. Jon Secrest.

Shambarger, who also formerly served on Ouachita’s music faculty for 32 years, served as one of three adjudicators for the competition along with Dr. Charles Wright, former dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts, and Maestro Marc Andre Bougie, conductor of the Texarkana Symphony Orchestra.

Serving as accompanists for the competition were John Briggs, Leslie Harper, Susan Monroe, Phyllis Walker and Mary Worthen.