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November 1, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Williamson competition draws 24

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The 2013 Chad Williamson Memorial Scholarship Competition will be the largest ever with 24 vocalists entered.

The free competition is at 2 p.m. Nov. 10, in Swope Music Hall.

"We just had great talent, and a lot of interest in this year's program," said Colleen Gray, associate professor of music at SRU and program organizer. "I think all of the singing competition shows on television have sparked a renewed interest in performance and given our students a measure of confidence that they can compete with the 'best of them' so they signed up."

"Our judge this year, Nicholas Perna, will have his work cut out for him. This is going to be a great program, showcasing a lot of talented SRU vocal students," she said.

Each of the SRU contestants will present a classical piece and a popular piece, keeping with Chad Williamson's love of music and performance.

Perna, the competition's judge, is a tenor and assistant professor of voice and vocal pedagogy at West Virginia University. He began his career on the operatic and concert stages and now focuses on voice pedagogy, teaching and investigation of the singing voice.

He was awarded a Presser Music Foundation Award, providing him an opportunity to study voice science with Donald Miller utilizing VoceVista software.

His doctoral research in nasalance's effect on the acoustics of the tenor passaggio and head voice has led to new techniques in teaching tenors to negotiate passaggio. He has presented his research in poster papers at national conferences for The Voice Foundation and the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A manuscript of his research has been accepted for publication in Journal of Singing.

Perna teaches studio voice, vocal pedagogy, vocal repertoire for teaching and a teaching technology course, which focuses on students becoming independent users of VoceVista, the electroglottograph and the nasometer. An active NATS member, he is governor of the West Virginia District, and vice-president of the Tri-State Chapter. Perna's students have won competitions at regional and chapter NATS competitions, as well as district and regional NATSAA competitions.

He earned his bachelor of music degree in voice and his doctor of musical arts degree in vocal pedagogy and performance from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music and his master of music degree in voice from the University of Houston's Moores School of Music.

In his debut as the Prince in Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges" Charles Ward of the Houston Chronicle said "an impressive sound, [he] made the show work vocally." Lawrence Johnson of the South-Florida Sun-Sentinel declared "an emotionally driven performance," for Perna's work in a gala production of "The Pipe of Desire." He debuted the role of the Accuser in the critically acclaimed world premiere of Bright Sheng's "Madame Mao."

The annual event honors the memory of a Williamson who had enrolled at SRU, but was killed in a motorcycle accident before starting classes. He was a Slippery Rock High School graduate.

The scholarship was established in 1992 by the Williamson family and friends to recognize and support talented vocalists pursuing their academic ambitions at SRU.

Williamson was the son of Karen Legato and the late Fred Williamson.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.