Students hit high notes with top musical awards

Publication Date

Paige Kent ’23 and Helen Smith ’22, both sopranos who sing in the Union College Choir, have received first and third prizes, respectively, in the college division of the Musical Theater Competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

NATS is the nation’s largest organization for singers. The college competition was held by the Eastern New York Chapter.

Paige Kent standing in front of the Nott

Paige Kent '23

“This competition was a fun way to challenge myself, and to stay connected to my love of musical theater,” said Kent, of Warwick, N.Y., a biomedical engineering major.

“Working with the music department helps me stay balanced and pursue my love of singing and performing. That balance is definitely key to allowing me to pursue so many interests, one of which is continuing to grow as a singer and performer.”

Kent is also an Admissions tour guide who has been active in her Minerva, Sorum House and the Society of Women Engineers.

Smith, of Hinsdale, Ill., is a dual math and theater major with a minor in Japanese. Preparing for the competition “was a lot of work in a short amount of time,” she said.

Contestants were expected to perform two contrasting musical theater selections written or intended for a staged musical production.

Helen Smith '22 in front of the Nott Memorial

Helen Smith '22 (Photos by Ryota Matsue)

“Placing in this competition proved to me that I should not stop performing. I am excited to see where this could possibly take me,” Smith said. “I really do love singing. Not being a music major or minor, I find that taking voice lessons and being in the choir keep me from drifting away from singing.”

Smith is active in the Theater Department and her sorority, Kappa Delta Phi.

“I am so proud of our students,” said Shou-Ping Liu, the Department of Music’s director of performance and a lecturer in choral and orchestral conducting. She also gives individual voice lessons. “They were competing against nearly 30 other students from colleges in Upstate New York, including many with much larger music programs.

“Without our choir, I would never be able to discover these great talents.”

The National Music Theater Competition was launched a decade ago as the first of its kind for the emerging professional music theater soloist. It provides connections to past competitors and winners who have been successful on Broadway and in other venues.

As prize winners in the regional, Kent and Smith are eligible to compete in the semifinals in January in New York City.