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Lori Kehli, lecturer at music, plays piano along with Mikaela Crotchett, senior in music education, during the Barbara Rondelli Kansas Statewide Classical Voice Competition at Bicknell on Saturday, Mar. 7. The event was popular with many local classical voice enthusiats and students. Daniel Tustin

Kansas Undergraduate Vocalists Compete in Voice Competition

Competitions take preparation and work from dedicated competitors that participate to see their determination pay off. On Saturday March 7, vocalist took part in the fourth annual “Barbara Rondelli Kansas Statewide Classical Voice Competition.” The event took place from 10 a.m. to 6p.m., in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. During this competition, undergraduate vocalist from the state of Kansas competed against each other to advance in the competition and win a prize.  

“I’m just so grateful to be able to be here and perform,” said Madison Westervelt, junior in music education. “To be able to do this with music it’s amazing.” 

The competition was divided into four different categories: mezz0-soprano, baritone-bass, soprano and tenor. When the musicians first come out to the stage, they sing one song of their choice, then the judges select four pieces for them to sing.  

“I love singing the aria, from Werther I just feel like it’s so emotional and powerful,” Westervelt said. “Va! Laisse couler mes larmes (Werther)” by Jules Massenet is a piece of different emotions. It is categorized as an “aria”, which is long accompanied song for a solo voice.”  

Four finalists from each vocal category were chosen to participate in the final round of the competition. At the end of the competition a prize of $1,500 was awarded to the first winner in each category. The winners also sang a song selection at the end of the competition in the “Winner’s Concert.” 

“It’s a very unique competition because it’s very focused on a specific singer only from this state,” said Patrick Howle, music instructor at PSU.  

The vocalists have been preparing for this competition since last semester.  

“I started preparing roughly in January,” Westervelt said. “Before this I had performances in the opera, so I had a lot of focuses this semester.” 

The criteria of the competition are that the competitors must be an undergraduate student currently enrolled at a Kansas institution. 

“When I heard about this from my vocal coach, I was super excited to be able to go to a different college and experience a competition of a different kind,” said Ethan Bush, senior in music education at Emporia State University.  

They submitted recordings to be considered for the preliminary round in November 2019, and finalists were chosen early January 2020. The requirements for their repertoire are recordings that must include two arias and three art songs, representing three different languages.  

“It’s very exciting to hear all these young singers get up and perform and show us how much talent is across the state,” Howle said.   

Howle taught two of the vocalists that performed at the competition.  

“It’s been very rewarding to work with them and to see them make progress, and them to get up and compete today,” Howle said.  

Each competitor strove to have something different that they implemented in their performance to distinguish themselves from contestants.  

“When I was preparing for this, I really thought about how I could expand on my repertoire, and how I can present myself in a way that would make me stand out,” Bush said.  

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