Students excel in regional singing competition

Five Hesston College students gave outstanding singing performances at the annual National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) regional competition October 31 and November 1 at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Nathan Snyder from Fruita, Colo., turned in a top-notch performance, placing third in the finals of the Freshman Men’s Classical Division. He was also a semifinalist in the Lower College Musical Theatre Division. Four other Hesston College students were recognized for outstanding performances and advanced to the semifinal round of competition. They were Emily Hornung, a freshman from Osage City, Kan., in the Lower College Musical Theatre Division; Sam Kauffman, Mountain Lake, Minn., in the Freshman Men’s Classical Division; Mitch Stutzman, a sophomore from Middlebury, Ind., in the Lower College Musical Theatre Division; and Lauren Zehr, a sophomore from Wauseon, Ohio, in the Lower College Musical Theatre Division.

Matthew Schloneger, Hesston College voice professor, noted that students compete against peers at their age level. In this regional competition, contestants come from Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming.

“Competition is always stiff,” Schloneger emphasized, “Our students compete not only against other small schools like Bethel and Tabor colleges, but against Division I universities with some of the best vocal programs in the nation, including Wichita State, The University of Nebraska (Lincoln), and the University of Colorado (Boulder).”

According to Schloneger, students perform before a panel of three judges and must receive superior scores from two of the three judges to advance to the semifinal round.

Schloneger continued, “John N. Murray, Hesston, Kan. (Freshman Men’s Classical Division) and Mitch Stutzman, Middlebury, Ind. (Sophomore Men’s Classical Division) both sang quite well in the classical division preliminary rounds. They both received an advancing score from one of the three judges, but fell short of a second vote.

“The success of these students shows that they are competitive with some of the top vocal students at major universities,” Schloneger pointed out. “This year was one of Hesston’s better showings, with five semifinalists, the most semifinalists since I began teaching voice lessons here in the fall of 2001. We have a lot of talented singers on campus.”