The University of Tennessee at Martin Department of Music presented its second “Death By Voice” vocal competition Feb. 23 in the Blankenship Recital Hall.
The show was open to both high school and UTM students engaged in private music lessons. Winners receive a personalized plaque and the opportunity to perform their piece at the college’s 2016 spring choral concert.
This year, there were a total of nine competing students.
High schoolers Amanda Massengill and Magdalena Martinez of South Gibson County High School in Medina, Tennessee and home schooler Meleah Gateley are from the same vocal studio and performed pieces in Italian.
Through the experience, Martinez said she hoped to get comments and constructive criticism about things to work on for college auditions.
Junior Julianna Culley of Henry County High School also competed with the three in the high school category for her second year.
“I love all of this,” said Culley about the environment, performance and competition.
Gately was the high school winner.
College students performed in two categories. The first was the College Art group in which participants sang music of different languages. It had two competitors and was won by vocal major, Darius Taylor.
The last segment of the program, College Aria, required participants to perform opera songs. Bridget Huenefeld sang a number from the opera “Tartuffe” to gain her victory.
“I’m really excited because I found out this morning that I have a sinus infection and I have been nervous all day long,” said the junior.
UTM students paid an entry fee of $30 for the accompaniment of Delana Easley, whom they have worked with on their performance for most of this semester.
“The music is wonderful but just getting to work with the students, and especially watching them grow as they go through the program from freshman to senior,” said Easley in regards to her favorite part of her job as the collaborative pianist for the Department of Music.
Judges were Director of Percussion Studies, Dr. Julie Hill; director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music, Dr. Mark Simmons; and retired University of Missouri-Kansas City associate professor of vocal studies, Anne DeLaunay.
She judged on things such as diction, clarity, connection with the audience and star quality.
Established for the first time last year, the concert came out of a larger concerto that in addition to “Death By Voice”, has been split into another instrumental production.
It was also formatted to benefit local high students. Given that many local schools do not have choral programs, students do not participate in All State competitions. It was decided that if a student should win at the “Death By Voice” concert, that win could be used in place of state concert participation for their scholarship, should they decide to attend UTM.
“I thought it went very, very well. I thought it was a lot of fun and the level of talent was stepped up from last year,” said show organizer participant, associate professor of music Dr. Roberto Mancusi.