CCNATS September/October 2016 Newsletter 

CCNATS September/October Newsletter

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In this newsletter...

Letter from our Chapter President...

Dear Chicago NATS Members:

Happy Fall! We had a wonderful and busy summer with the National Convention and your CCNATS Board is working hard to build the 2016-17 event calendar. We had six members retire from the board last year and we are happy to welcome some wonderful new board members: Nadine Gomes, John Hacker, Thomas Hueber, Jennifer Mather and Amy Pickering. Please read about some of them in a later section in this month's newsletter.

If you haven't signed up for the Fall Workshop, there are still seats open. On October 1 fro 9-5pm, Dr. Robert Bastian's Voice Institute is hosting Kenneth Bozeman who is offering a day-long workshop exploring the pedagogy of Acoustics. The fee is $60 for NATS members and includes (breakfast and lunch). Please take advantage of this very reasonably priced educational opportunity. Register at

If you would like to join us for a Fall Event for Suburban Teachers on Sunday, October 23rd from 5-8p.m in Hinsdale, please email Jennifer Mather at

I would like to invite any CCNATS members to join our "Task Force" who will assist with board activities in the areas of finance, workshops, student auditions and membership. Please email to express your interest.

Finally, we are currently working on securing dates and a location for our 2017 Student Auditions in Classical and Musical Theater. We will announce the information as soon as we have it. 


In 2017, we will offer student auditions for 6th-8th grade for the first time ever. Students will prepare two selections (one may be from musical theater) and gain the opportunity to audition and receive feedback and recognition for their work. Please email, if you have students in this area and would like to learn more.

Wishing you the best,


Tracey Ford
CCNATS President


A word from our NATS President-elect


What an incredible summer we all had at the 2016 NATS National Conference in Chicago.  My personal thanks to EVERYONE for sharing what we have in Chicago with 1,353 attendees.  The musical and vocal vibrancy we have here is something we really did and will always….celebrate!!!!

Chicago Chapter NATS deserves a major “group hug” for all they contributed to the conference.  The Conference Committee members included:  Victoria Holland who made sure our guest artists were well taken care of, David Hoffman who did a yeoman’s job of scheduling the MANY needs for pianists, singers, and the pianos themselves, Tom Hueber who oversaw the volunteers (which were many of you!!!!), Mark Crayton who hosted the NSA at Roosevelt, Sarah Holman who picked up any piece of the puzzle that needed it, Chadley Ballantyne who did an impressive job of overseeing a smooth registration, our new Central Region Governor, Carol Chapman, who assisted with the NATSAA Competition, and Ken Donovan who made sure the stage was set for every plenary session, and to Angela Young Smucker who helped me with Program Chair duties.  AND hurrah for Tracey Ford and everyone who managed the first ever NATS store.  AND hurrah for all the teachers who sat at their schools’ and organizations’ in booths.   And congrats to our Chicago Chapter NATS members who were presenters: Dr. Robert Bastian, Stephen Smith, Aaron Johnson, Julia Bentley, Davin Youngs, Karen Bauer, Maria Lagios, Angela Presutti, Michelle Areyzaga, Melissa Foster, Lisa Griffith, and a big shout-out to Davin Youngs’ student Missy Wise who won the first place award for NMTC.  Henry Pleas shared an incredible Late Night NATS session Walk Together Children – a NATS Camp Meeting with Charles Hayes and friends, and Chicago’s own Liederstube with Eugenia Cheng and Oliver Camacho was a real hit. 

As I shift my focus from duties as Governor of the Region and Program Chair for the 2016 Conference to being NATS President Elect, I ask for your help bringing many others into the NATS family.  We learn from each other and we all have much to offer.  I hope many Chicago Chapter NATS members come to the 2016 Central Region NATS Conference in Iowa City October 29-30.  Make the effort for yourselves and your students.  These two days are designed to offer networking, auditions, AND learning for your students and yourselves.  With NATS giving and receiving all happen at once.

Initiatives:  new members including collaborative pianists, students will soon be able to join NATS, start a college or university SNATS Chapter, pay your dues early.  Being an active member of NATS is a win-win-win-win!!!!

Next national conference:  Las Vegas, June 22-28, 2018 at the Tropicana – a great location connected to many other hotels.  Great hotel rates.

Hoping to see you all soon,

Karen Brunssen
President-Elect NATS
Associate Professor of Voice
Bienen School of Music
Northwestern University


Letter from our Regional Governor

Dear Chicago Chapter NATS Members,
The second annual
CRNATS Conference and Auditions is just weeks away! Last year was a great success, thanks to Karen Brunssen and so many of you in the Chicago Chapter. Thank you for your hard work on last year’s regional conference held at Olivet Nazarene University as well as the spectacular National Conference this past July. I love Chicago!
Over the past few years, I have had a chance to get to know many of you through NATS events. A highlight for me was the gala dinner the last night of the National Conference. At the dinner, I had the pleasure of sitting with several Chicago NATS friends, old and new, including Erin Matonte, Tracey Ford, Sarah Holman, Paul Thompson, David Hoffman and Richard Boldrey.  I had some amazing conversations that
evening, and went away feeling uplifted and inspired by their enthusiasm, passion, and energy. Now as regional governor, I am getting to know more leaders from the Chicago Chapter including Mark Crayton and Chadley Ballantyne, to name a few who are working tirelessly to make the CRNATS Conference and Auditions at University of Iowa a success.
Many more of you have worked to make workshops, student auditions, and member events available in the Chicago area, and I want you to know that your time and efforts are very much appreciated. Your work has greatly enhanced the teaching and quality of singing in Chicago and beyond! Keep going! I look forward to seeing all that you accomplish this academic year and hope that the
CRNATS Conference and Auditions will be a part of your plan for success. Please check out the website for information about the conference and auditions in Iowa, October 29 and 30, 2016.
Congratulations on a successful year.  I hope to see you in Iowa!
Carol Chapman
NATS Central Region Governor

2016-2017 Board 

 Tracey Ford, President
Paul Thompson,
Vice-President and Treasurer
Nadine Gomes, Secretary/Communications 
Jennifer Mather, Director of Membership/Social Activities
John Hacker, Director of Student Auditions
Stacey Eckert, Membership, Workshops and Student Auditions
Theresa Brancaccio, Workshops
Amy Pickering, Membership, Workshops and Student Auditions
Allison Rozsa Evans, Workshops and Student Auditions
Rebecca Schorsch, Communications, Student Auditions
Thomas Hueber, Treasurer in Training  

Regional Conference 

This year's Central Region NATS Conference and Student Auditions are soon approaching! 

WHEN: Saturday & Sunday, October 29-30, 2016

WHERE: University of Iowa Voxman School of Music,  Iowa City, Iowa


For more information, please go to:


Member Spotlight: New Board Members, Pt.1

Each edition of the CCNATS newsletter this year will feature a Q&A with selected members, representing the wide variety of wonderful folks who make up CCNATS. In this issue we meet Nadine Gomes, Tom Heubner and John Hacker: all new to the Board this year. Check back in November/December's issue to hear from the rest! 

Nadine Gomes

Q: What is your education as a singer and teacher? "I've always been attracted to a wide variety of musical styles, and my educational background certainly reflects this. In high school, I studied with a classical voice teacher, but I also fell in love with musicals and choral music. I studied for three summers at the Interlochen Center for the Arts first as a Voice Major and then as a Musical Theatre Major. For my undergraduate work, I received my B.S. in Performance Studies at Northwestern University. I then went on to study as a Vocal Jazz Performance Major at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I moved back to Chicago, pursued a variety of performance opportunities including performing in a touring educational theater company, classical concert work, being a soloist for a touring Symphonic Pops Orchestra, gigging as a jazz singer, and singing in an acapella quintet. I decided to pursue teaching, and I got my M.M. in Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy at Roosevelt University.

Q:What age group/level of student do you enjoy working with most/specialize working with? "I have taught every age from infants to senior citizens, but I am definitely in my element working with college students and adult theater professionals in the arena of musical theater. I am currently a Lecturer in Voice in the Theatre Conservatory at the Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and I maintain a small private studio, as well. I am going into my twelfth year at Roosevelt, and I still feel like I am always learning new things and growing with my students. Working with young people who are talented, passionate, and dedicated to their studies is a tremendous privilege, and I think the Chicago theater scene is an exciting place for emerging professionals to hone their craft.

Q:Why did you join the board and what are you looking forward to in this year’s CCNATS year? "Teaching voice can sometimes be an isolating pursuit, so I have always enjoyed meeting my fellow teachers and exchanging ideas. Since I joined NATS and the Chicago Chapter, I have met some really wonderful, dynamic teachers, and I have greatly enjoyed all of the workshops and competitions I have attended. I went to my first NATS Conference this summer in Chicago, and I was even more inspired to collaborate with and learn from my colleagues. When I was asked to join the Board of the Chicago Chapter, I jumped at the chance! I am really looking forward to attending the Ken Bozeman Workshop on Acoustic Pedagogy this October, and I am trying to find time to binge-watch the archived videos of some of the NATS Conference workshops that I wasn't able to see in person this summer!

John Hacker
Q:What is your teaching philosophy? "Singing is an extension of who we are - therefore each student brings with their singing a fabulously, unique individuality that has to be carefully taught, directed and guided by  appropriate and attainable goals. The pursuit of those goals produces growth not only as a
singer/artist, but also as a person.

Q:Do you have a mentor that shaped your philosophy?  I have had so many great mentors for my singing artist path - a path which I see as a direct reflection of my life path. The first was my high school choir director, Anna Barnlund, who encouraged this insecure but passionate kid down a road of tons of amazing opportunities that not only developed me as a performer but grew me as a person. Another fabulous mentor was my cooperating teacher, Robert Boyd. He instilled in me the balance of striving for absolute excellence in music while fully enjoying the process and performance - all modeled in how instructed his students and worked with colleagues. One last remarkable mentor was my voice teacher for several years, Winifred Brown. Again, nothing less than excellence expected but with an amazing amount of understanding, patience, encouragement. Strive towards a wonderful music product but remember it is only one portion of who you are. Live your whole life with excellence. 

Q:What do you love most about teaching voice? "Witnessing my students' successes - the little moments to the big moments. Knowing that my small contribution to their growth benefits them not only in their musical endeavors but probably also in life. 

Tom Hueber

Q: What is your education as a singer and teacher? "My formal education as a singer consists of music performance degrees from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music (BM) and the University of Michigan (MM, DMA).  The teachers/mentors who've impacted me most as a singer have been Clayton Halvorsen, Donald Doig, Leslie Guinn, Martin Katz, and George Shirley.  As a voice teacher, one of the most significant influences was my participation in the NATS Intern Program where I had the privilege of working with Barbara Doscher as my mentor teacher.  My growth as a teacher has always been, and continues to be, stimulated by my wonderful voice teaching colleagues.

Q:Why did you join the board and what are you looking forward to in this year's CCNATS year? "I recently moved to the area to begin a new teaching job at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, and at my previous teaching position (at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO) I was very active in Missouri NATS, even serving as District Governor.  I've continued my involvement with NATS by serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for the recent National Conference in Chicago, Central Region NATS liaison to the NATS Foundation,  and now as Treasurer-elect for CCNATS.  I'm looking forward to meeting more of the CCNATS members through the many activities scheduled throughout the year.

Q:What do you love most about teaching voice?  "Among the many things that I find exciting and gratifying in teaching voice:

  •  is the opportunity to work one-on-one with young singers and to see their faces when we have one of those "aha" moments in the studio.
  • to witness students' growth, over time, as a result of our hard work in the studio and their hard work outside the studio.
  • to exceed expectations for what they can achieve and accomplish.
  • to watch students move on to further vocal study and to become successful performers and voice teachers themselves

Member news and events

 CCNATS Task Force

If you would like to become more involved with the CCNATS Board activities, we invite you to join our “CCNATS: Task Force” The Task Force will consist of 10-15 members who will assist the Executive Board with various activities. These members will not have any other Board responsibilities and will not have voting rights. Please email President, Tracey Ford,, if you would like to learn more about the task force. Please indicate the area/s in which you are interested.

1.    Student Auditions

2.    Membership and Social Activities

3.    Workshops and Continuing Education

4.    Finance and Fundraising

5.    Communication

A note about '16-'17 Auditions:

Hope you are excited for Auditions this year! Dates and locations will be coming soon. The Board is in the process of planning our spring Auditions - both classical and musical theater. We are looking to add workshops, continue to improve our adjudication system, and do whatever possible to make the days great for students and teachers as well as parents and others who come to support our singers. If you have ideas that could benefit our auditions and/or would like to join the Auditions team to help, please email our Director of Auditions, John Hacker at

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