Four Glenn Korff School of Music Students Receive Recognition at NATS National Conference

(left to right) Nathaniel Sullivan, Angela Gilbert, Kayla Wilkens and Jeremy Brown at the NATS National Conference.
(left to right) Nathaniel Sullivan, Angela Gilbert, Kayla Wilkens and Jeremy Brown at the NATS National Conference.

Four Glenn Korff School of Music Students Receive Recognition at NATS National Conference

17 Jul 2014    

Kayla Wilkens
Kayla Wilkens

Four students from the University of Nebraska–LIncoln's Glenn Korff School of Music received recognition at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Conference in Boston July 4-5:

  • Nathaniel Sullivan, of Bettendorf, Iowa, who received his Bachelor of Music degree in May, won the collegiate musical theatre men’s division.
  • Angela Gilbert, of Ralston, Neb., a senior music major, won the collegiate musical theatre women’s division.
  • Jeremy Brown, of Elwood, Neb., a junior music education major, was awarded second place in the men’s musical theatre division.
  • Kayla Wilkens, of Salem, Ore., who received her Master of Music in May, received the Dorothy Kirsten-James Browning Award for Most Promising Singer and awarded second place in the NATS Artist Awards Competition. She receives a $3,000 cash prize, a $2,500 scholarship to attend AIMS in Graz, Austria, and a $500 gift certificate from Hal Leonard Corporation for the second place finish. She also receives $1,500 for the Most Promising Singer Award.

    The undergraduate winners received $1,500 each, and second place winners received $750.

    “I am thrilled for our students, who represented the Glenn Korff School of Music so spectacularly at the National NATS Auditions in Boston,” said Alisa Belflower, coordinator of musical theatre studies. “They have never performed better than they did in the finals—a personal best for each of them. We have amazing singers at UNL. I am honored to teach them and always excited to help them discover the extent of their talents.”

    These auditions began last Fall with the regional auditions. More than 700 regional winners from across the nation were eligible to begin the national portion of the competition. Winning required success in four rounds of independent judging, each narrowing the pool of contestants.

    In addition to the students listed above, the following UNL students were awarded semi-finalists in other divisions: Kamran Churchman, a senior music and music education major from Ankeny, Iowa; Kate Johnson, a sophomore music major from Omaha, Neb.; Robert Klein, a sophomore music major from Aberdeen, S.D.; David Ricart, a junior music major from Omaha, Neb.; and Sebastian Sorensen, a sophomore music education major from Fremont, Neb.; in addition to Brown, Sullivan and Gilbert.

    “Jeremy Brown, Angela Gilbert and Nathaniel Sullivan were three of only four students in the nation named semi-finalists in both the classical and musical theatre divisions,” Belflower said.

    Semi-finalists were selected from more than 400 students as one of the top 14 students in a division. There are six collegiate divisions in this national competition.

    Sullivan, Gilbert, Brown, Sorensen and Churchman study voice with Belflower. Johnson and Klein study with Associate Professor of Voice Kate Butler. Ricart studies with Associate Professor of Voice Kevin Hanrahan. Wilkens studies with Assistant Professor of Voice Jamie Reimer.

    “Winning national awards from the most prominent professional organization of university professors and teachers of singing (NATS) is a tremendous and hard-earned honor,” Belflower said.

    Wilkens was one of eight national finalists competing in the NATS Artist Awards Competition.

    “Kayla is undoubtedly a special young woman,” Reimer said. “She is the combination of superb, natural talent, a tremendous work ethic and an infectious personality. I am thrilled that her efforts and abilities have received this esteemed national recognition. Anyone who has heard her sing knows that hers is a very special gift, and I am so happy that she is able to share it with a larger part of the world. I look forward to all that she will accomplish as a singing artist in the future.”

    The professional competition requires each competitor to prepare a 14-song recital that fulfills a number of repertoire requirements.

    “Winning the Most Promising Singer Award was a wonderful surprise, and it was especially notable because most of my competitors were at least four to five years older than I am and currently singing professionally,” Wilkens said. “The award was a special recognition of my talent and potential, and I’m very thankful to have been recognized among peers and colleagues.”

    Wilkens will be returning to Portland, Ore., in August to sing with the Northwest Young Voices concert at the Portland Summerfest, in addition to appearing in the “Broadway Tonight!” benefit cabaret at the Lincoln Community Playhouse on Aug. 21. In September, she will sing in Menotti’s “The Telephone” at Lincoln Public Schools through an educational outreach opportunity through Friends of Opera.