NEW YORK — A field of top young vocalists from across North America offered thrilling performances as they competed in the 48th National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Artist Awards competition on Sunday, January 7, 2024. The event culminated with soprano Emily Siar from Boston, Massachusetts, winning first place and earning more than $13,000 in cash and prizes. Siar is a NATS member representing the New England Region and she is a student of Sabrina Learman and Carole Haber.
The 2024 NATS Artist Awards competition was held in conjunction with the NATS National Winter Workshop in Neidorff-Karpati Recital Hall at the Manhattan School of Music (New York). Thirteen singers competed in the semifinal round earlier in the day, five of whom advanced to perform in the evening final round. Soprano Virginia Mims from West Palm Beach, Florida, finished second. She studies with Marilyn Mims and represents the NATS Southeastern Region.
2024 NATSAA first prize winner Emily Siar with pianist Renate Rohlfing. Photo credit: Toby Winarto.
The remaining finalists included mezzo-soprano Courtney Fletcher from Lawrence, Kansas, (West Central Region) winning the Irma Cooper Award for third place; mezzo-soprano Sadie Cheslak from Chicago, Illinois, (Central Region) winning the Herald Stark Award for fourth place and also won the Dorothy Kirsten/James Browning Award for Singer with the Most Potential; soprano Natalie Buickians from Malibu, California, (Cal-Western Region) winning the Mary Wolfman Award for fifth place. The other semifinalists won a total of $6,000 in prizes.
Siar won a $5,000 cash prize; a generous scholarship to attend the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria; a $1,000 gift certificate from Hal Leonard Corporation; and a featured solo recital at the upcoming 2024 NATS National Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Mims won $4,000 in cash plus a generous scholarship to attend AIMS in Graz and a $500 gift certificate from Hal Leonard Corporation.
2024 NATSAA first prize winner Emily Siar. Photo credit: Toby Winarto.
Collaborative pianists in the final round included Jan McDaniel, performing with Sadie Cheslak and Courtney Fletcher; Renate Rohlfing, performing with Emily Siar; Gregory Ritchie, performing with Virginia Mims; and Natalie Sherer, performing with Natalie Buickians.
The NATS Artist Awards (NATSAA) competition is designed to assist singers prepared to launch a professional career. The NATSAA semifinal and final rounds are held biennially in conjunction with NATS Winter Workshop in New York City, in proximity to a wide audience of artist managers and industry professionals. Generous monetary awards are sponsored by the Foundation Heritage Fund of the NATS endowment. Event sponsors include, AIMS in Graz, the Hal Leonard Corporation, and the Manhattan School of Music. Thank you to our sponsors!
About Emily Siar
Emily Siar, D.M.A., is a soprano and voice teacher based in Boston, Massachusetts. An active performer of opera, early music, art song, chamber music, contemporary music, musical theater, and cabaret, Siar has performed on the stages of Jordan Hall (Boston), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Kodak Hall (Rochester), The Huntington Theatre (Boston), the Paramount Theatre (Boston), and the Granada Theatre (Santa Barbara), among others. She has recently been a featured artist with Boston Baroque, the Henry Purcell Society of Boston, Boston Opera Collaborative, and Mass Opera. Favorite roles include Calisto (Cavalli's Calisto), Cendrillon (Massenet's Cendrillon), Barbarina (Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro), La princesse (Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges), Papagena (Mozart's Die Zauberflöte), Cosette (Les Misérables), and Dorothy (The Wizard of Oz).
A pedagogue to watch, Siar serves on the voice faculties of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and the University of Massachusetts Boston. Additionally, she maintains a thriving private studio in the Boston area, serving both pre-professional and avocational singers. An advocate for the benefit of vocal cross-training, Siar teaches musical theater and classical voice with equal skill and enthusiasm. She has been a visiting guest clinician at the New England Conservatory and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a regular presenter at Boston Conservatory's Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop.
In addition to cultivating fruitful relationships with her students as a studio voice teacher, Siar is passionate about classroom teaching and research. Her course, “Cabaret and Culture,” developed with the assistance of a Presser graduate research grant in Paris, has been offered at both New England Conservatory and the Boston Conservatory. She also teaches undergraduate vocal pedagogy and diction. A strong proponent of the benefits of vocal cross-training, Siar has completed Levels I, II, and III of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method and is a graduate of the New CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University.
Siar is a passionate advocate for voice health and the importance of addressing the enduring stigma of voice impairment in the world of classical singing. Her doctoral research project, “‘Rendering Visible’: Investigating Student Attitudes Toward and Experiences of Voice Impairment,” sought to give voice to students who have experienced this phenomenon firsthand, yielding actionable recommendations for educational institutions. She is an advocate for changing conversations about voice health and injury, guiding her students to better understand their voices and how to access voice care should they need it.
She holds degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (Doctor of Musical Arts), the Eastman School of Music (Masters of Music), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Bachelors of Music, Kenan Music Scholar, summa cum laude). She is a proud member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and currently serves on the board of NATS Boston as director of community communications. Learn more at emilysiar.com.