USD Voice Students Bring Home 18 Awards

BROOKINGS, S.D. -- Thirteen University of South Dakota students won awards from the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition, making USD the school with the most awards of all universities in attendance.

Under the supervision and guidance of Tracelyn Gesteland, Ph.D., associate professor of music at USD, and Brandon Hendrickson, assistant professor of music, students participated in the South Dakota state chapter NATS competition in Brookings on Saturday, April 2. NATS encourages the highest standards of the vocal art and ethical principles in the teaching of singing. It is the largest of its kind, located in 30 countries with more than 7,000 members.

The winners: De Shonté Helm, Elizabeth Wensmann, Brody Krogman, Eldon Warner, Dana Carlson, Hannah Lambertz, Jerry Holbrook III, Emily Vidler, Noah Temple, Alia Nix, Kirsten Wahl, Rachael Biggerstaff and Marty Balmer. Pianists Deanna Wehrspann, Diane Van Den Oever, Susanne Harmon and Spencer Smith accompanied the students in the competition and helped the participants throughout the event.

Gesteland's students:

  • 1st place -- Upper Women's Musical Theatre- De Shonté Helm
  • 1st place -- Lower Women's Musical Theatre- Elizabeth Wensmann
  • 2nd place -- Graduate Classical- Dana Carlson
  • 2nd place -- Senior Women Classical- Hannah Lambertz
  • 2nd place -- Junior Women Classical- De Shonté Helm
  • 2nd place -- Upper Women's Musical Theatre- Hannah Lambertz
  • 3rd place (tie) -- Lower Women's Musical Theatre- Alia Nix
  • 3rd place (tie) -- Lower Women's Musical Theatre- Kirsten Wahl
  • Honorable Mention -- Junior Women Classical- Rachael Biggerstaff
  • Honorable Mention -- Upper Women's Musical Theatre- Dana Carlson
  • Honorable Mention -- Upper Women's Musical Theatre- Rachael Biggerstaf

Hendrickson's students:

  • 1st place -- Junior Men- Brody Krogman
  • 1st place -- Freshmen Men- Eldon Warner
  • 2nd place -- Senior Men- Jerry Holbrook III
  • 2nd place -- Sophomore Women- Emily Vidler
  • 2nd place -- Freshmen Men- Noah Temple
  • 2nd place -- Lower Men's Musical Theatre- Eldon Warner


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News