LEWISTON — The Maine Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, also known as NATS, held its annual Musical Theatre Festival on Nov. 23 at the Olin Arts Center at Bates College. Founded in 1944, NATS celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with a continued mission as the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, with more than 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and more than 35 other countries. The Maine Chapter of NATS consists of 40 active members, combining professional and private teachers of singing at all levels of study, with studios throughout the state.

Although auditions didn’t start until 9 a.m., students from across Maine began gathering at 7:45 a.m. to prepare. NATS require each student to prepare two songs from a musical theater show or movie: one dating pre-1985 (classic) and one post-1985 (contemporary). Students perform their selected choices in front of a dais of three judges specially chosen from throughout New England for their experience, training, direction and knowledge of the musical theater literature. During the course of the morning, a series of judges heard over 70 students perform nearly 150 songs from the Broadway stage and screen.

There are eight divisions ranging from junior through all grades of school up to the college levels and avocational (adult). Three finalists are chosen from the morning’s audition tallying system and they go on to compete in the afternoon’s finals competition.

Numerous past Maine NATS finalist winners have gone on to successful careers in fields of singing; either in live performance, academic teaching or managerial administration. Columbia artist and Metropolitan Opera star Ashley Emerson and award-winning Sempre artist mezzo-soprano Megan Marino are two of the many former Maine students who won at NATS. Artist faculty in voice, Alexandra Dietrich, who herself placed at previous Maine NATS Festivals during her studies at the University of Southern Maine School of Music, is now faculty at USM and is sending her own students to compete.

At the awards ceremony, 24 students were awarded first, second and third place in the state NATS Festival Competition, accompanied by certificates of achievement and a monetary presentation. The next Maine NATS competition will be the Classical Festival on Saturday, May 2, at the Olin Arts Center. The Finals Competition is open to the public beginning at 1 p.m. Admission is free.

NATS students sharing a special moment SYSTEM

Students from the University of Southern Maine School of Music: (left to right) Aaron Kercheis, Molly Scott, Brandon Wong, Mikayla Jane, Madeleine Blakemore, Chana Wingard. Submitted photo by Ed Reichert

Maine NATS 2019 Musical Theatre Festival Participants at Olin Arts Center, Bates College. Submitted photo by Mary Letellier

First Place Winner Sophia Scott from Boothbay Harbor. Submitted photo by Cherie Scott

New England NATS Regional Governor Julie Krugman with Maine NATS President Aaron Robinson. Submitted photo by Julie Krugman

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