Ohio Wesleyan University student Rachel Ballitch ’18 has a lot to sing about these days — and Richland County has reason to be proud as it adds to its storied history in vocal music.

The Mansfield resident just earned first place in the Senior Women Division of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Vocal Competition.

Ballitch also will graduate in December with her second OWU degree – a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. She completed her Bachelor of Music in piano performance in May.

“This competition is great because you get input from professionals in your field,” Ballitch said of the Ohio NATS competition. “Constructive criticism is crucial, and the critique you receive can really help the growing and learning process.”

Ballitch, a soprano, will put those critiques to full use Nov. 11 when she closes out her OWU music career at her senior recital. She will perform at 7 PM in Jemison Auditorium inside Sanborn Hall, singing works by Hugo Wolf, Henri Duparc, Claude Debussy, Fernando Obradors, Peter I. Tchaikovsky, and Charles T. Griffes. The recital is free and open to the public.

She also will use what she’s learned as she plans her next steps after graduation. “Placing in competitions like this make you more marketable and competitive when applying for graduate school,” Ballitch said, who plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in vocal performance.

Ballitch said decided to attend Ohio Wesleyan after her high school piano teacher, Gulimina Mahamuti, a former OWU faculty member, brought her to a number of University music events.

“I immediately felt at home here,” Ballitch said. Originally a piano performance major, she but added vocal performance after taking lessons with professor Jason Hiester. “Doors were opening for me to pursue voice, and it became apparent that I was supposed to be singing,” Ballitch said.

Hiester called the Ohio NATS event a “very exciting and very important competition” for Ballitch to win. Last month’s competition was her third, with each performance resulting in a higher finish. In 2016, Ballitch placed third in the First Year College/Independent Studio Women division. In 2017, she earned second place in the Third Year College/Independent Studio Women division.

The National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc., (NATS) is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, with nearly 7,000 members. According to its website, NATS members come from the United States, Canada, and nearly 30 other international countries.

In addition to the Ohio Chapter NATS award, Ballitch also has earned the Encouragement Award for Opera Columbus’ Cooper-Bing Vocal Competition and third place in the New Albany Symphony Concerto Competition, both this year. She also has studied at The Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. She has also taught voice, music, and “Music for Little Mozarts” at the Richland Academy of the Arts.

Source, Photo: Ohio Wesleyan University

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