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SOTA Students Recognized in the
National Association of Teachers
of Singing

Feb. 8, 2021 —  Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts students have placed as finalists in the Kentucky National Association of Teachers of Singing Student Adjudications.

NKU SOTA participated with 36 students from the Theatre and Dance Program, Music Program, and Music Preparatory Division. The vocal instructors are Joy Burdette, Ellen Graham, Xan Jeffery, Catherine Keen, Rita Larkin, Kimberly Lazzeri and Kelly MacKenzie-Thurley, and they are all members of NATS. These 36 participants took the initiative to participate, and 10 placed as finalists and received cash prizes.

“I have never been more grateful for my professional colleagues who are so giving of their time and energies to promote healthy teaching, healthy singing, and camaraderie in our profession,” said Rita Larkin, vocal professor at NKU.

This year, the event was virtual, and students submitted their performance videos to be judged by NATS members in Kentucky. They received written feedback from three judges. Additionally, teachers and students had the opportunity to view a virtual Guest Artist Recital and hear singers at all of the different levels in the Finals Concert presented on YouTube. This experience allows students to prepare quality performances, receive valuable feedback, and hear their peers from across the state with a variety of songs.

NKU student Benjamin Barkdoll is one of the winners, and he recorded his submission in his dorm room. “Usually, NATS is a fun weekend trip full of competing, listening, and time with friends,” said Barkdoll. “Although online NATS was not the same, it was a special opportunity for us to bring performance into our normal environments.” Barkdoll of Kimberly Lazzeri’s studio placed first in the Junior Classical Tenor, Baritone, Bass division.

Kimberly Lazzeri is finishing her term as Kentucky NATS President. Starting this January, Dr. Joy Burdette will be serving as Secretary of the Kentucky NATS Executive Committee and Dr. Ellen Graham will be serving as an At-large committee member.

NKU SOTA Finalists:
Linnzie Hays (Xan Jeffery)
Erin Reardon (Rita Larkin)
Sabrina Mack (Rita Larkin)
Chloe Esmeier (Rita Larkin)
Jackson Hurt (Catherine Keen)
Joshua Van Nort (Rita Larkin)
Jordan Whittaker (Rita Larkin)
Chris Monell (Rita Larkin)
Richard Taylor (Rita Larkin)
Benjamin Barkdoll (Kimberly Lazzeri)

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit