One of the Top Collegiate Singers in the Nation is an IUP Student

Posted on 9/20/2018 1:45:13 PM

Ben Strong, a junior music major with a focus on musical performance, recently took second place in the Lower College/Independent Men category at the 55th National Association of Teachers of Singing national convention in Las Vegas.

Ben Strong is one of the top collegiate singers in the nationMore than 15,000 student singers applied for the contest; only 1,500 men were accepted to compete. From there, contestants competed at the district level, with winners advancing to regionals. Strong won both of those contests, and the regional winners were pared down via video judging to 14 semifinalists, who were all invited to compete in Las Vegas.

In all, Strong spent nine days in Las Vegas, as the competition took place over several days, with downtime being used for rehearsals.

Strong advanced through to the finals, where he sang “Madamina, il catalogo è questo,” from the Italian opera “Don Giovanni,” written by Mozart in 1787. He also performed Brahms’ “Sapphische Ode” and “Zion’s Walls” by Aaron Copland.

“I wasn’t nervous to perform because I knew the songs so well,” he said. “But I usually get nervous the day before a competition because there’s still time for something to go wrong. I could fall asleep and wake up with a hoarse throat, or I could be off. But that morning when I woke up I felt great. I went and practiced, and it went smoothly. I was anxious, but I was excited.”

Strong, a 2016 graduate of Indiana High School, is mentored by Department of Music faculty member Joseph Baunoch.

Strong spent last summer studying in Italy, where he perfected his version of “Madamina.” He said that experience gave him the confidence to know he was ready to compete against the best college singers in the country.

“I was well prepared,” he said. “I’m a really big competition and performance guy. I went to Italy last summer and performed the role. I practiced it until I got it down.”

Up next, Strong is looking for opportunities to sing in other competitions while also making connections as he prepares to attend graduate school after he earns his bachelor’s degree. After his education is complete, Strong hopes to begin a singing career that could take him around the world.

And finishing second at the NATS competition is a good way to start that journey.

“I’m really happy with being able to say I’m second in the nation among college males at this level,” he said. “I look forward to my future and hopefully, someday, being the best in the world.”