2 Korff School vocalists are national semi-finalists in NATS auditions

 Left to right:  Shane Daughtrey, Lauren Breed and Evangeline Mason. Courtesy photos.
Left to right: Shane Daughtrey, Lauren Breed and Evangeline Mason. Courtesy photos.

2 Korff School vocalists are national semi-finalists in NATS auditions

calendar icon29 May 2024    

Lincoln, Neb.—Two Glenn Korff School of Music vocalists are national semifinalists in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Student Auditions after competing with hundreds of singers across the country in live and virtual auditions.

Shane Daughtrey, a sophomore voice major from Bellevue, Nebraska, is one of 15 students in the Music Theatre lower post high school category. Lauren Breed, who just graduated in May with her Bachelor of Music Education from Omaha, Nebraska, is one of 16 students chosen for the next round of competition in the Hall Johnson Spirituals category. They are both invited to sing at the NATS National Conference for the semifinal round in Knoxville, Tennessee, on June 27-28 to compete for cash prizes and national recognition.

In addition, Evangeline Mason, a sophomore voice and French major from Papillion, Nebraska, was a quarterfinalist in the Classical category.

“The Glenn Korff School of Music and the voice area are committed to helping singers move to the next level of artistry and performance,” said Amy Guevara, lecturer of voice. “Lauren, Shane, and Evangeline shine a national spotlight on the talents of our singers as well as their hard work and perseverance.”

Daughtrey, who has performed with UNL Opera in “O Pioneers!” and the Nebraska Repertory Theatre in “Big Fish,” is excited to continue competing in the Music Theatre category.

“This means a lot to me because I love to get to grow in this field, and you can never stop learning,” he said. “I wasn’t looking at doing music, at first, when I was looking at college in high school, but this makes me happy. I decided to do what I love, and I don’t regret that decision any day.”

His repertoire for the competition includes “I’d Order Love” from “First Date” by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner; “There is a Sucker Born Every Minute” from “Barnam” by Cy Coleman; and “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady” by Lerner and Loewe. 

“I selected this with the help of my teacher, Amy Guevara,” he said. “I also found characters I loved to portray in each of these songs. I am just so glad I get to go learn in a new area and find new people to grow with. That is the best part of life—getting to do what you love around people that have that love for the same thing.”

Breed is competing in the Hall Johnson Spirituals Competition category. Johnson (1888-1970) is an American conductor, composer and arranger. The purpose of the competition is to restore authenticity to the performance of the classically arranged Spiritual, one of America’s unique contributions to world culture. 

“When I found out I was a semi-finalist for the NATS Nationals, I was speechless,” she said. “For the past three years, I have been working diligently on advocating for black composer music within music spaces on and off campus, including how to research what each piece is about and how to respectfully perform them, so it was jaw-dropping to see a group of people recognize that effort and intention within my performance.”

In this category, Breed selected three of Johnson’s spiritual works from certain repertoire selections.

“Now, it’s no secret I am a white performer, and the historical connotations behind spirituals are of a history I cannot begin to comprehend,” Breed said. “It was beyond important for me to select pieces I was not only able to research, but pieces that I could appropriately and respectfully perform. I found one of my songs through competing at the George Shirley Vocal Music Competition. The song was titled ‘Witness,’ which is a story that tells different biblical stories of the powers of God and how these certain men of the Bible witnessed God’s power. The singer acts as a narrator of these stories and tells the stories of Nicodemus and Samson.”

The other two pieces she selected included “Ride on, King Jesus” and “Give Me Jesus.”

“This piece took me by surprise on how much I would grow to love the emotions behind each verse,” she said. “As someone who is a Christian, this text resonated with me for each time I was down and needed saving. He was there. It was BEYOND important for me to know what I was singing about and how I could accurately depict each song and what it was about.”

In addition to competing, Breed is looking forward to hearing the other contestants perform.

“As much as competition is fun, I am grateful that Hall Johnson’s music is being shared within a national association in order to continue to perform and advocate for black composer music within performing spaces,” she said. “So to uplift my other performers within this special category is what I am most excited for. To make finals would be something I cannot comprehend.”

Breed said this experience brings her one step closer to continuing her journey of advocating black composer music within music spaces.

“My career goal in the long term of events is to be able to research, advocate and perform works of black composers, living and past,” Breed said. “This entire world of music is something that means so much to me, and I feel such a pull to continue to bring this music to places where people aren’t familiar with it. I am a soon-to-be first-year elementary music teacher, but even through my classroom, I plan to share black composer works to show children the representation I wish kids had when I was younger. This is only the beginning, and I hope through my studies and teachings, I am able to bring focus to composers who were not given a fair chance at recognition of their fantastic works.”

Mason was excited to make it to the quarterfinals in the Classical category.

“When I enter these competitions, I try to keep my expectations realistic, because everybody else has also worked hard, and everyone deserves to be here,” she said. “I’m grateful for the recognition. It inspires me to keep going.”

Her repertoire included “Seligkeit” by Franz Schubert, “Take, O Take Those Lips Away” by Amy Beach, “Nuit d'étoiles” by Debussy and “Batti, batti, o bel Masetto” from “Don Giovanni” by Mozart.

“Dr. Jamie Reimer and I chose these pieces based on what I wanted to improve on in the fall,” Mason said. “In the future, hopefully this builds a strong base for me to audition with, with all the tools I need to succeed for a career in opera performance.”