LEWISTON — For the first time in 75 years, the Maine chapter of the nonprofit National Association of Teachers of Singing will hold its classical singing competition via the internet.

Instead of students auditioning behind closed doors and finalists performing before judges and an audience at Olin Arts Center at Bates College, they will send a video that include one piece sung in English and two sung in the original language to the association YouTube channel.

Three judges for each of the seven divisions will watch the auditions at noon May 2 and finalists will be announced live on the association social media accounts at 9 a.m. May 9.

Aaron Robinson, president of the Maine chapter, said registration for the competition is due by midnight Sunday, April 19. Participants will have until noon May 2 to submit their videos.

He expects around 75 people to submit videos.

Each submission will be ranked on a scale from 1 to 20, and the three singers with the highest scores will be selected as finalists, he said. The three finalists from each division will be eligible to compete in the New England NATS competition next year.

One challenge for students is the lack of a musician for auditions.

“Usually, the students will have a live musician accompanying them while they sing, but due to social distancing requirements, they have to sing with a backing track,” Robinson said. “That causes it’s own set of problems, because the track slows down for nobody. If you need to take a breath while singing, you won’t get it with the backing track.”

He said many of the winners and finalists have gone on to do “big things,” including performing on Broadway or in operas.

Isla Shovilin, 10, the winner of the fifth and sixth grade Junior Division in 2019, is hoping to be one of them.

Her mother, Kirsten, said her daughter has been involved with musical theater for the past three years and began taking voice lessons last year. It was her first time performing before an audience.

“You’d never know it was her first time performing live,” Kirsten said. “She said she wants to be in Broadway someday. Everything is about music with her right now.”


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