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Star Quality: UA Little Rock Student Advances to National NATS Competition

Music major Andrew Battie was selected as a semifinalist in the National Student Auditions. Photo by Benjamin Krain.
Music major Andrew Battie was selected as a semifinalist in the National Student Auditions. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

A UA Little Rock student will have the chance to showcase his musical talent on a national stage during the 2024 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Conference held June 28 to July 2 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Andrew Battie, a junior music major and theatre minor from Little Rock, has been selected as a semifinalist in the National Student Auditions. Selected from more than 1,000 participants in the preliminary auditions, the semifinalists represent students of NATS members from 14 American and Canadian regions as well as the International Region, which is comprised of six chapters spread over four continents.

“I’ve always considered myself to be an ordinary person, and I never expected to get where I am,” Battie said. “I’m beyond grateful for this opportunity and the people that have gotten me to this point.”

Battie will audition in person in the Classical 6 category as part of the 58th NATS National Conference. He will perform “Sure on This Shining Night” by Samuel Barber. Then he will perform one of two additional songs selected by the judges – either “Mein Schöner Stern” by Robert Schumann or “Come Raggio di Sol” by Antonio Caldara.

The national semifinalists were selected by panels of adjudicators as the approximately 15 top student-singers in each category. The top three singers in each semifinal category will advance to live final auditions. NATS will award a total of more than $84,000 in prizes to the NSA finalists. The competition also gives Battie the chance to perform on a national stage in front of voice teachers, professors, and music industry professionals from across the country.

“There are a lot of networking opportunities, but I’m there to perform and to appreciate music,” he said.

Diane Kesling, a voice instructor at UA Little Rock, is helping Battie to prepare for the competition. They meet every week to go over his pieces for the upcoming competition.

“Andrew has studied with me for two years. Each week we have a voice lesson during the semester and then he has a half hour coaching with Ms. Jones,” Kesling said. “Andrew works very hard to make music come alive, which is one of the most important reasons that he has won this prestigious honor of representing UA Little Rock at the National NATS competition.”

Battie has been singing since sixth grade. He will graduate from UA Little Rock in 2026 and hopes to become an opera singer for the Metropolitan Opera. He is grateful for the extraordinary difference that music has made in his life.

“I always used to think that music was just notes and rhythms,” Battie said. “After all the moments of exciting opportunities and happiness that music has brought me, I see music as this beautiful creation that God has put upon humans. If we didn’t have music in our lives, the world would be completely different.”