First Place at NATSAA Competition

July 28, 2008

On June 27, 2008, I experienced one of the most exciting moments of my professional career thus far. After months of auditions and competing all over the country, I was awarded First Place in the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Artist Award Competition in Nashville, Tennessee and will be making my New York solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall next summer.

The journey began in the winter of 2007, when I applied for the competition. Each applicant needed to offer 18 pieces of music (an entire recital program), and comply with many repertoire requirements (there had to be a certain number of pieces from American composers, German and French Art Song, opera arias, etc.). After submitting my application, I was granted an audition in the first preliminary round, which took place at Chapman University in Southern California in early March of 2008. I won first place in that round and to my surprise, proceeded to win the Cal-Western Regional round in Utah, Arizona held in April. As a result, my pianist Tali Tadmor and I would be heading to Nashville for the semi-finals and finals in late June. Unfortunately, the last segment of the competition would arrive just three days after my final performance of Violetta in La Traviata, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall. I was careful to remain healthy after Traviata then headed for Nashville.

There were fourteen singers from all over the country who competed in the semi-finals on June 26. This part of the competition was similar to the previous rounds where each contestant began with their choice of song and then the judges would choose from the remaining 17 pieces until you sung for 20 minutes. Naturally, my voice was still a little tired from just finishing three Violettas in a row, but I sang well enough to make it into the final round. I couldn’t believe this because there were so many wonderful singers!

Six of us were chosen to sing in the finals, which took place the following day. Each finalist had to prepare a 15-minute program out of the 18 pieces of music we originally offered and we performed our programs for the entire NATS convention (there were several hundreds of people in attendance). Because I had worried about my voice the day before, I decided that during the final round I would only focus on singing my heart out, having the time of my life and praising the Lord’s name. To my delight, I achieved my goals and had an incredible experience! Since I was the fourth singer of the evening, I was able to hear the sixth singer’s program and knew she was extremely talented. After hearing her I thought I didn’t have a chance.

Following a brief reception after our performances (to give the judges time to make their decision), they gathered all of the finalists up on stage and started awarding 6th prize, then 5th, 4th, and so on. As the awards were being presented, my name continually went unmentioned and when it came down to being one of the last two competitors, I couldn’t believe what was happening! Then when they announced the 2nd place winner and didn’t call my name, I just about died of shock! The woman who received 2nd place performed right before me had this enormous, incredible voice…I couldn’t believe it!!! I looked over at Tali, who was sitting out in the audience, and she was literally jumping out of her chair. It was surreal!

Along with cash prizes, the most exciting news is that I will be performing a solo recital at the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall in New York. I am looking forward to this opportunity with great anticipation and am already planning the program, which will take place on June 18, 2009. In 2010 I will perform another recital for the next NATS Convention to be held in Utah. In addition to of all of this, NATS will be asking me to perform in regional conventions throughout the country. I’ve also been awarded a scholarship to attend the AIMS summer music festival in Graz, Austria any summer of my choosing.

I couldn’t be more ecstatic about all of this and would like to thank each one who has supported me throughout the progression of my career. Thank you!


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The Artist

Soprano Courtney Huffman is recognized as a singer of exceptional artistry and versatility. She has a passion for opera as well as the recital stage and already has an impressive resume of roles and repertoire.
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The Acclaim

“Teutile…brilliantly sung by a young soprano, Courtney Huffman, just entering the professional arena, is treated as a supercilious young starlet…She sings and steals the stage…I hope opera talent scouts were on hand…”
-- Mark Swed, LA Times
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