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Features — 13 February 2013

By Marcello Molteni

Music is universal. There are those who live for it, those who die for it, those who mix it, those who play it, those who dance to it, and those who create it with their voices.

Abigail “Abi” Leitch is a first year student at Albion College who simply loves to sing. Whether it’s jazz, classical, opera, or anthologies of cultural pieces in choir class, Abi surely sings it, and sings it loud.

Recently, Abi participated in a vocal performance competition at Grand Valley State University.
“The title of the competition was NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) state-wide competition. This competition gives vocal students at the collegiate level an opportunity to compete against their fellow musicians,” said Abi Leitch, Waterford freshman. “Singers are divided by gender and grade level–I was in the ‘freshman women category.”
In preparation for the concert, Leitch practiced relentlessly with her vocal coach, Albion professor, Dr. Maureen Balke.

“Preparation began by meeting with my voice teacher, Dr. Balke, to make song selections. With her guidance, and that of my accompanist, A Ram Lee, we prepared the songs for performance,” Leitch said. “Before the competition the Albion NATS contestants performed their pieces for vocal faculty and students at a studio voice class. This gave the singers a chance to rehearse their songs before a critical audience and to receive constructive suggestions.”

She sang three separate pieces: “Sweet Change that Led My Steps Abroad”, an English art song by Michael Head, “Beau Soir” a French art song by Claude Debussy and finally “Quella Fiamma” an Italian aria attributed to Benedetto Marcello.

“My approach to the competition was simply to do my absolute best and to focus on my songs, said Leitch.” “As a first year, I wanted to get the lay land before forming any opinions about the outcome of the day.”

After her performance, the judges did not hesitate to shower her in complements. Much to her surprise, she was awarded first place in the First-Year College Women category.

“Participating in events like NATS is a really good way for vocal music students to gain performance experience. It was tremendously constructive to get feedback from experts and to see so many other singers dedicated to their art,” said Leitch. “I learned a lot and got so much encouragement from my fellow Albion singers.”

Leitch is an active member of the Albion College Concert Choir and Briton Singers in the soprano voice range. She is double majoring in Public Policy and Musical Performance. This March, she plans to attend a regional vocal performance competition at Western Michigan University.

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Marcello Molteni

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