Student Alivia Combs won first place in the category for female junior and senior college students at the regional competition for National Association of Teachers of Singing on March 2.
The competition allows students from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario to showcase their talents in musical theatre and classical performance.
Combs performed “But Not for Me” from Girl Crazy, “How Did We Come to This?” from The Wild Party, “It’s Too Late” from Beautiful and “Easy to be Hard” from Hair.
“For me, this competition was about gaining new experiences,” Combs said. “I have been auditioning for theaters his season, and NATS is a safe place to work my repertoire and get constructive feedback.”
Combs noted that the competition was fun, as well as being helpful toward building her career.
“I really enjoyed being able to perform and just do what I love,” she said. “It’s nice being able to support my fellow classmates who also performed.”
She attributed some of her success to music professor Elizabeth Belluni.
“I first found out about NATS through (Belluni),” Combs said. “She introduced me to the world of NATS and musical theatre performing altogether. I am very grateful for her and what she has done for me.”
Combs noted Belluni was instrumental in choosing the pieces she performed for the competition.
“(Belluni) helped me pick out an appropriate repertoire that would both allow me to grow as a vocalist and show my voice in the best light,” she said.
Combs and Belluni explained that a lot of time and effort went into getting ready for the competition.
“Alivia attended lessons with me once per week and maintained a detailed practice schedule,” Belluni said. “We incorporated exercises that we use to develop a sustainable singing technique that lends itself to a variety of styles and genres. There’s a process of learning the notes, but one crucial element is being able to connect with the text.”
Combs said she and Belluni “worked together diligently to internalize the material so (Combs) could emotionally portray each song.”
“It was definitely a journey to get these songs to a performance-ready state,” she said.
Combs is currently working on a major in music and a minor in musical theatre.
“After I graduate, I will be moving to Chicago and auditioning for theatre companies,” she said.
Belluni has high hopes for Combs’ future.
“I see great things happening for Alivia,” she said. “My hope is that through each new experience, she further develops an unshakable belief in herself and her abilities. I look forward to the day she is on a professional stage in her dream role.”