MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University freshman Traicoryon West, a music performance major from Hopkinsville, Kentucky, recently won first place in the first-year tenor/baritone/bass category of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Mid-South 2020 competition.
Founded in 1944, NATS is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, with more than 7,000 members in the United States, Canada and more than 35 other countries. Auditions for the Mid-South competition were originally scheduled to be in person at the University of Louisville from March 27-28, but were moved to an online format to follow social distancing guidelines amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. West and his Murray State music faculty mentor, Dr. Tana Field, learned of the change only a few days prior to departing for Murray State’s spring break.
“Had the in-person auditions happened, Trai should have had at least two more weeks to prepare for NATS and to practice performing in front of his peers,” Field said. “Shortly after I learned of the transition to an online format, I asked him if he thought he could be prepared to pull everything together and hold a video recording session the next day. His collaborative pianist, Robert Arneson, was graciously available and willing, so we reserved a hall and made recordings to submit prior to leaving campus on March 13.”
West performed “I Feel The Spirit Moving,” arranged by Mark Hayes, which West describes as an uplifting piece about feeling a swell of spirit in your heart. He also performed a rendition of “Caro Mio Ben” by Giuseppe Giordani and “Amor Preparami” by Alessandro Scarlatti.
West said adjusting to the online format proved challenging, though his discipline and training kept him steady throughout his audition.
“I believe it changed my performance, because I didn’t have an audience or someone to look at to fully express emotion through the music,” West said. “To be in first place is very rewarding. I’m extremely grateful and honored to be in this position in NATS.”
“One of the lessons that I believe performers have to learn is to prepare for unexpected opportunities and challenges,” Field added. “It would not have been possible for Trai to participate, had he not been putting in the hard work all semester that set him up for this success. For Trai to be rewarded for his hard work is icing on the cake.”