In Achievements and Awards, Events, Students

Abigail Ketch, Diane Reich, Courtney Lawson and Josie Larsen (left to right) attended the Classical Singer National Convention Competition. (Logan Ketch)

BYU professor Diane Reich accompanied three students to a national vocal competition

Members of the BYU School of Music made a favorable impression on and off the stage at the annual Classical Singer National Convention Competition, which took place in Chicago at the end of May this year. 

The Classical Singer National Convention Competition is a multi-round elimination contest for both students and non-students. BYU students Josie Larsen, Abigail Yingling Ketch and Courtney Lawson competed in this year’s convention. All three passed the preliminary round, qualifying them to continue to the national round.

“Any opportunity to perform, get feedback and experience the discipline of the profession is very valuable,” said vocal performance professor Diane Reich. “Classical Singer Music (CSMUSIC) is one of the prominent organizations for rising singers in our country. Our students were seen by numerous universities and vocal programs — exposure which could be beneficial after their studies at BYU.”

Larsen competed in the University I Division and took first place. She brought the audience to their feet during her performance in the winners’ concert with the Queen of the Night’s aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” 

Larsen was offered scholarships to the Neil Semer Vocal Institute in Germany and the Angels Vocal Art Opera Intensive in Los Angeles. 

“I feel incredibly grateful to all of my teachers, friends and family for their support,” said Larsen. “There is no chance that I would be where I am without their support. I am so blessed to have been able to go compete and do well at my first national competition.”

Lawson also competed in the University I Division and advanced to the semi-finals. Ketch competed in the University II Division and was offered a scholarship to the CAMMAC summer program in Quebec, Canada. 

“Part of me knew that the competition would be way harder than anything I’d ever done before,” said Ketch. “That made me a little nervous, but the competition helped me know what’s needed to succeed in the music world.”

Josie Larsen performed in the winners’ concert and received a standing ovation. (Diane Reich)

Reich and fellow BYU vocal performance professor Darrell Babidge mentored the three students and supported them as they competed against some of the top classical singers in the country.

“I know how hard these students work all year long, so it was wonderful to see them apply their training in a competitive situation — and do well,” said Reich. 

In addition to sharing their musical talent with audience members, they were able to give service and make lasting friendships during their time in Chicago. The BYU students volunteered to monitor different audition rooms, answer attendees’ questions and let singers know when they could enter the room for their performance.

“I loved volunteering at the Classical Singer National Convention Competition,” said Lawson. “Through this experience I was able to meet other performers and hear what emerging professionals — those who are just a few years ahead of me — sound like. I would volunteer again if I were to attend the competition again next year!”

Reich also participated in the competition as a judge of other divisions, gave a masterclass and represented the BYU School of Music at the college expo.

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