McCook Community College freshman Leslie Hernandez, a 2020 McCook High School graduate, will represent MCC Friday in the Nebraska chapter of the National Association of Teachers of singing (NATS) competition.
"I've loved singing since I was young but I've never competed in any music competition," said Leslie.
This past spring she was going to compete in the high school district music contest for the first time, but directed health measures prevented that from happening.
Leslie participated in choir as a high school freshman and as a sophomore decided to audition for and was selected to the MHS Select Choir – the only audition she's ever done. Shortly after she enrolled in vocal music class at MCC, Music Director Dr. Mirna Cabrera encouraged Leslie to audition online for this competition.
"I am very impressed with the way Leslie has combined talent and work ethic," said Dr. Cabrera. "Not only is she talented but she works hard doing detail work as instructed."
While COVID-19 prevented Leslie from competing in the district music contest, she's not letting her preparation last spring go to waste. The piece she was working on then will be one of three she will use for her YouTube audition: "Tu lo sai" by Giusseppe Torelli, along with "Now Sleeps the Crimson Petel" by Roger Quilter, and "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair" by John Jacob Niles.
"It's a little bit intimidating, but I think doing auditions by YouTube is easier than in person," she said.
Also as part of the auditioning and performing process, Leslie will have a recital in Tipton Hall, Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Dr. Cabrera said Leslie is required to sing the entire repertoire by memory and artistry.
"She has demonstrated an ability to take seriously these challenges," Dr. Cabrera said.
The freshman business major said being a first-time college student during the pandemic has been both difficult and easier than normal. She prefers in-class learning, but admits sometimes it's easier doing classwork from home.
Leslie did get a two-week head start at MCC, as she was part of the Bridge To Success program which allowed her to address one of her main concerns about college: English. Since it is not her first language, she had frequently struggled with English but said the program helped prepare her for college English, provided help in preparing for all her college classes, and alleviated some anxiety over English class.
Winners in this year's Nebraska NATS competition will then be eligible to compete at the regional level of the National NATS competition.
Founded in 1944, NATS is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world with more than 7,000 members in the United States, Canada, and more than 35 other countries.