TX Wes welcomes the NATS Artist Awards competition


The NATSAA winner Jaquelyn Matava and her pianist is standing in front of the Cliburn Steinway Concert Grand Piano in Martin Hall.

Texas Wesleyan University welcomed the TEXOMA National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards (NATSAA) “Singer of the Year” Vocal Competition over a two-day preliminary and regional finals competition that live-streamed nationwide from Martin Hall.

The NATSAA regional finals on Saturday featured four female singers from Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

The winner, Jacquelyn Matava, associate professor of music at Trinity University in San Antonio, will be continuing to the national semifinals/finals in New York City in January 2022.

Matava spent over a month preparing for the NATSAA. “Some pieces I’ve had in my repertoire for a long time but there were a few – I think there were two – pieces that were totally new,” she said.

She has studied music for at least 15 years, starting out as an instrumentalist. “I couldn’t think about doing anything else; like there was no other option,” Matava said.

Keith Critcher, instructor of music, collaborative pianist, vocal coach, secondary piano and music in worship professor, participated in the process of facilitating the competition details with NATSAA.

Originally, the competition was supposed to be hosted at Texas Tech University in Lubbock; however, due to other competitions switching to an online forum, the NATSAA asked Wesleyan to host in-person and live stream instead.

“The fact that Wesleyan was able to host this event was pretty significant in that it displays our beautiful hall and the Steinway [piano]. The auditions committee I worked with was so excited to be here,” Critcher said. “And then, the fact that it was live streamed to all of these universities, instructors and coaches all across the country – lots of folks [saw] our campus,” he continued.

In preparation for the regional finals, the contestants were required to prepare 15 minutes of a variety of works including an aria from an opera in a different language, an aria from a major oratorio, mass, requiem or cantata and 12 additional pieces.


The competitors of NATSAA stand on stage at the Martin Center, presenting their awards.