Viterbo voice students attend Wisconsin NATS competition


David Caliri (left) and Carson Carter (right) pose with Dan Johnson-Wilmot and Judy Stafslien.

Nathan Janzen, Arts and Entertainment Editor

On Nov. 4 and 5, members of the Wisconsin state chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing gathered in person for the 2022 Wisconsin NATS Auditions. The competition at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point included voice students from high schools, universities and private studios across Wisconsin. It was the first in-person contest for the Wisconsin NATS chapter since 2019, as online auditions were held in 2020 and 2021. 

At NATS, most of the auditions are split by voice type, with categories only occasionally combined in cases of low turnout for an entire voice type. Categories for Classical and Musical Theater singers are included, as well as a newer American Negro Spiritual division. College and high school students compete in separate events. Traditionally, NATS contestants are divided into tenor-baritone-bass and soprano-alto-mezzo, (treble) groupings. Contestants are further divided based on either year of study or age. 

Auditions are judged by NATS member voice teachers. They give numerical scores based on technique, musical accuracy, expression, and other factors to determine category winners. This year’s Guest Adjudicator and masterclass technician was Cynthia Vaughn, who only recently retired from teaching at the Colorado-Washington voice studio she started in 2008. 

Viterbo representatives at the auditions included voice students of Dan Johnson-Wilmot and Dr. Ann Schoenecker, with pre-contest coaching by Polly Poppadopoulos (for Dalton Higley) and Judy Stafslien (for all other students). Stafslien provided all accompaniment for Viterbo students at the auditions. In addition to comments and performance feedback from adjudicators, category winners returned with certificates and monetary prizes. 

David Caliri placed second in the Classical Fourth/Fifth Year Treble-Baritone-Bass category. Carson Carter placed third in that same division. Lukas Nederloe placed third in Lower College Music Music Theater TBB. Dalton Higley received an Honorable Mention in that same division. Maddie Gartrell took third place in the Classical First Year Treble category. 

Sophia Niblock advanced to the semifinal round in two categories: Classical Second Year and Lower College Music Theatre Treble. Kieran Sween made it into semifinals alongside Niblock in the Classical category. Matt Lind reached semifinals in Classical Third Year TBB. 

Emma Tolzmann (First Year Classical Treble), Levi Magnuson (Third Year Classical TBB and Upper Musical Theatre TBB), Gabriella Kuehn (Fourth/Fifth Year Classical Treble), Ellery Larson (Fourth/Fifth Year Classical Treble), Dylan Woodman (Advanced Classical), and Josh Sobotta (Second Year Classical TBB) also attended the auditions. Recent alumnus Rachel Handrick, ’22, competed in the Advanced Classical category. Altogether, the students spent time between performances taking in the atmosphere and food of Stevens Point, getting a much-needed break before the busy weeks to come.