Newsletter Fall 2016

A Letter President


Welcome to the 2016-17 Academic year! I hope everyone had a restful summer. I look forward to an exciting year for our Chapter.

I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Fall Business Meeting and Winners Recital on Sunday, October 16 at Houston Baptist University. The Business Meeting begins at 3:00, and the Recital will follow at 4:00 p.m. I urge all members to attend because we will be clarifying the changes to the audition categories and repertoire requirement that was instituted by the National Office. We will also be planning and discussing the Spring Auditions.

I also encourage you to make plans to attend the Texoma Regional Conference; it will be held at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, November 2-5, 2016. Information can be found at Texoma Region Conference.

Elisa Thompson

As a reminder, the National Office of NATS has instituted a change in the collection of dues. Chapter dues will now be collected when national dues are paid. The National office has cited excellent reasons for this, including convenience for the members, consistency in payment deadlines, and increased membership at the local level. Chapters are now aligned with the February 1 deadline, so the Greater Houston Chapter will not collect dues on October 16; the dues will be collected when you renew your national membership.

I am very excited to be working with a new Board of Officers for the next two years.

Please contact me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns.
Elisa Thompson

From the Chapter Past President


Dear Greater Houston NATS Chapter Members,

I have enjoyed serving as the Chapter President for the past two years, and I look forward to working with the new Executive Board, under the capable leadership of Elisa Thompson.

Thank you for your support during my term, and best wishes to all.


Debra Greschner 

Debra Greschner

From the Secretary


It is my esteemed pleasure to serve as your secretary for the 2016-17 Academic year. As secretary, I am responsible for membership renewals as well as other communications to the membership. The primary responsibility of the Chapter Secretary is communication. Please feel free to contact me regarding upcoming activities, or anything else you would like to share with the membership at

Please be sure to renew your membership for this year. You can renew and pay your membership fees at Let’s also encourage and invite our fellow colleagues, to join us this year. The membership renewal period begins in October, with dues payments for the coming year due by January 31, 2017. After Feb. 1 a $10 late fee applies to all renewals. Members who do not renew their membership by March 1 will be deactivated and benefits will be terminated. A $20 fee will apply to reactivate membership after March 1.

I look forward to meeting and working with you as we strive towards making this a rewarding year for our students and chapter. May you have a productive year and I look forward to seeing each of you at our chapter events this year!


Jammieca D. Mott, D.M.A.

From the Treasurer


Greetings GHNATS friends!

I am honored to begin a second term as chapter treasurer. As you are well aware, last year we transitioned to paying chapter dues directly to the National Office along with national dues. This change has been beneficial for our chapter, since the funds are directly deposited into our account each month. Remember that in order to enter students at the various auditions, you must be up-to-date with both national and chapter dues. You should receive a dues reminder from nationals later this fall.

Because of the large turnout for last spring’s combined auditions, we were once again able to turn a profit from the event. This allows us to continue to award gift cards to the winners, as well as to provide accompanists for them at the upcoming Winners’ Recital.

I hope that all of you are experiencing a successful start to the fall semester, and I look forward to seeing everyone at our chapter events this upcoming year!

Angela Pickering, Treasurer 

Angela Pickering

From the Vice-President of Classical Auditions


I am honored to serve as the newly appointed chapter Vice-President for Classical auditions. I look forward to the wonderful singing this year will bring!

In an effort to streamline the audition process, there will now be two separate audition dates for the Musical Theatre and Classical divisions. It is our goal to make both audition days run smoothly and we hope that this change will bring greater efficiency to the overall experience for you and your students.

There are three important dates to reserve in your calendars. First, please plan on attending the Business Meeting at 3:00pm on Sunday, October 16, 2016, at Houston Baptist University. The 2016 Winners’ Recital will begin at 4:00pm in Belin Chapel at HBU.

Second, please reserve Saturday, February 4, 2017, for the GHNATS Spring Musical Theatre Auditions, hosted at the Houston Community College Central campus. This date comes earlier than previous years to allow winners the opportunity to qualify for the national competitions for Musical Theatre.

Michael Walsh

Finally, please reserve Saturday, March 25, 2017, for the GHNATS Spring Classical Auditions. We are happy that The Moores School of Music at the University of Houston will again be hosting this event. Like last year, our chapter meeting and judges’ meeting will begin promptly at 8:00am in room 131 of the Moores School of Music. Results for the finals in each category will be posted in room 131 and in several common areas near the main foyer for easy access for students to view.

Be sure to review the information found on the NATS Student Auditions Resource page as changes were made last year to standardize the audition process. Make sure you also understand the complete set of guidelines for each category and are familiar with them by clicking on the following link at: NSA Categories.

I highly suggest you contact and secure your accompanists now to reserve these dates in their calendars. Now that Musical Theatre and Classical auditions will be held on separate dates, we hope that the pianists you most collaborate with can play for both contests. As always, NATS endorses a strict policy regarding copyright laws which can be easily found at

I look forward to serving as your Vice-President of Classical Auditions. Special thanks to Judy Boyter and Katherine Randolph for their wonderful work over the past two years and for their help and organization in preparing me for this task. I appreciate your patience and understanding as I am still learning the ropes in this position. All the best on another productive year!

Thank you,

Michael Walsh

From the Vice-President of Musical Theatre


Dear GHNATS Members:

It is with great excitement that I join the board as Vice President of Musical Theatre Auditions. I am so grateful that we have a support system of mentorship from the former board members, as we move into the new season.

Musical Theatre Auditions are February 4, 2017 at HCC Central. We are once again scheduling Classical and Musical Theatre auditions on separate dates. With the current amount of singers auditioning, the one-day scenario is tough to manage. We are also seeking to free accompanists’ time, so that each event runs more smoothly. For those of you who enter students in both Classical and Musical Theatre, we have scheduled the events far enough from each other so that it does not overwhelm your schedules. Growth is a wonderful issue to accommodate!

I look forward to serving for the next two years. We have a significant chapter on the national scene, as well as with Texoma. Let’s learn from each other and keep the momentum going.


Donna Hinds Sawyers
Vice President of Musical Theatre Auditions, GHNATS
Voice Faculty, Theatre and Musical Theatre, Sam Houston State University
Executive Director, Studio Bella Voce

Report from the Vice-President of Workshops


Dear NATS colleagues and friends,

I am Serdar Ilban, baritone and vocal area coordinator at Lamar University. I have been an active member of NATS since 2003, and joined GHNATS in 2011. In 2010, I was selected as one of the recipients of NATS Emerging Leaders Award.

I am honored to serve as Vice-President of Workshops for the Greater Houston Chapter of NATS for my second consecutive term.

At the Classical and Musical Theater Auditions in March 2016, the Chapter presented a very well-attended workshop by Dr. Loraine Sims titled “Training the Terrible Tongue”. The year before, we had a lively panel discussion featuring distinguished guests from both classical and musical theatre genres. Some of today’s notable performers, teachers, and other industry professionals took questions from students, their family members and other performers and teachers. The discussion received lots of positive feedback from attendees.

Serdar Ilbanac

We are in the process of planning workshops and clinics for the coming year, some of which may coincide with the Music Theater and Classical auditions. Information about workshops will be forthcoming. Please contact me if you have suggestions for clinicians or topics.

Best wishes for a productive year, and I look forward to seeing all of you at our first official event in October!

Thank you,

Serdar N. Ilban, D.M.A.

Vice-President of Workshops


From the Membership Liaison


I am happy to serve as Membership Liaison for the GHNATS chapter and look forward to seeing you all at our meetings, competitions, and Winners Recital. If we don’t know each other, please introduce yourself. The following is a description of my duties……’The Membership Liaison is responsible for initial email contact to new and renewing members to welcome them to the Chapter. The Membership Liaison shall also provide a bridge to useful information to members by being the contact for members and go-between for the board. This office will direct members and renewing members to the pertinent information they need.’

Until soon,

Frances Fenton 

Frances Fenton