The very streets of Blacksburg might just burst forth in song at the end of this month as more than 450 professionally trained singers will gather at Virginia Tech for competitions, workshops, and plenary sessions on American art song.

On Feb. 28, 29, and March 1, the Virginia state chapter of the National Association for the Teachers of Singing will hold its annual conference, which is sponsored by the university’s Department of Music and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Two sessions by guest clinician Paul Sperry of the Julliard School will highlight the conference. Sperry, a tenor with degrees from Harvard University and the Sorbonne, will discuss his expertise in the American art song on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m., both in the Squires Recital Salon. Since 1987, Sperry has served as the director of Joy In Singing, an organization dedicated to helping young singers and American composers in fostering the art song.

Workshops will be held on technology and the voice; the Alexander Technique; studying, auditioning and working in Europe; college auditioning; and musical theater vocal discovery. Faculty from universities across Virginia, including Shenandoah University’s Shenandoah Conservatory and Virginia Commonwealth University, will moderate these meetings. The crowd will consist of music professors and teachers of singing, as well as 400 students ranging from high school to post-graduate level.

“The kickoff to the conference on Thursday night is the crowd-pleasing National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award competition, which will feature seven semi-professional classical singers from across the state,” said Nancy McDuffie, assistant professor of voice at Virginia Tech and president of the Virginia state chapter of the National Association for the Teachers of Singing. The national winner of this competition will perform at Carnegie Hall, in New York City.

“We’ll also have students from collegiate and private studios who will audition in 27 different categories according to age, gender, and literature type,” said Theodore Sipes, assistant professor of voice at Virginia Tech and host coordinator of the event. Winners of this competition will have the opportunity to advance to the Mid-Atlantic regional competition.

All sessions and competition will be held in the Squires Student Center, which is home to Virginia Tech’s Department of Music. All auditions, workshops, recitals, and sessions are free and open to the public.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The College nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of Apparel, Housing & Resource Management; Communication; English; Foreign Languages & Literatures; History; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Music; Philosophy; Political Science; ROTC; Science and Technology in Society; Sociology; Theatre Arts; the School of the Arts; and the School of Education.

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