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Isabelle Kosempa stands smiling and holding her First Place NATS Nationals certificateThe department congratulations rising junior voice major Isabelle Kosempa on her recent first-place win at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Auditions in Lower Classical Treble Voice category. Kosempa studies with Dr. Jeanne Fischer and has performed in numerous performances with UNC Opera and Carolina Choir.

We caught up with Kosempa to learn more about what this competition experience and win mean to her, as well as what she’s looking forward to for this upcoming year.

UNC Music: What was it like to compete in Chicago for NATS Nationals? How did it compare to competing at the state and regional levels?
Isabelle Kosempa: It was an amazing experience! It was my first time competing in person in over two years given the pandemic, and to have it happen in the semifinals and finals was certainly a huge challenge. Unfortunately, both the state and regional rounds were by video this year. All of those competing at nationals are terrific singers, so to be included in that group is a real honor.

UNC Music: Have you competed in NATS competitions previously?
Kosempa: I have been competing in NATS competitions since my first year of high school. I reached nationals as a senior in high school, but it was the COVID summer of 2020 and the event was online. This year was my first opportunity to compete in-person in the national setting.

UNC Music: What does it mean to you to have placed 1st in your category at NATS?
Kosempa: It makes me proud of how far I’ve come vocally. It really showed me that my hard work is paying off and it has inspired me to continue working toward a music career.

UNC Music: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from this experience?
Kosempa: At this level, everyone is extremely talented. I learned that you must believe in your training, enjoy the opportunity, learn from others you are competing against, and use the experience to prepare for the future.

UNC Music: For many music students, summers are spent performing in intensive programs around the country and world. What have you been up to this summer?
Kosempa: I attended Songfest, an art song program held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, for the majority of June. I studied with several coaches and worked on performance techniques and text expression. I also made some great friends who share a similar passion for singing.

UNC Music: What are you most excited about (vocally) this upcoming academic year?
Kosempa: I am so excited for the future UNC Operas as well as my junior recital. I’m looking forward to learning new repertoire with Dr. Jeanne Fischer, then singing it for family, friends, and faculty!

Additionally, to Kosempa, recent graduate Kennedy Miller, competed as a semifinalist. Rising junior Julia Holoman and recent graduate Mackenzie Smith were also selected as national semifinalists but were unable to compete due to other commitments. Read more about all the national semifinalists and finalists here.

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