World’s Largest Teachers of Singing Organization Taps MC Faculty Member for Executive Role
The largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world has selected a Mississippi College faculty member to serve as its vice president of outreach for the 2022-24 term.
Dr. Nicholas Perna, associate professor of voice and voice pedagogy at MC since 2015, was named to the position by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A NATS member since he turned professional and president-elect of the Mississippi chapter, Perna has served in many roles for the organization, including governor of West Virginia, treasurer for the Southern region, and poster paper coordinator for the association’s national conference.
Perna, who will assume the vice presidency next summer, said his new responsibilities will include outreach to music students.
“I will be in charge of the student part of our organization, in which we are often referred to as SNATS,” he said. “I also will oversee the decision-making and use of our discretionary funds. In addition, I will work very closely with the vice president for membership in trying to form relationships with new members, and I will work with the executive director on initiatives to help our organization partner with other professional organizations and move the mission of NATS forward.”
That mission is to advance excellence in singing through teaching performance, scholarship, and research, something Perna has committed a large portion of his professional life to achieving.
A Presser Music Foundation awardee, Perna obtained his D.M.A. in voice pedagogy and performance from the University of Miami, his M.Mus. in voice performance from the University of Houston, and his B.Mus. in voice performance from the University of Miami. A voice research associate at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, his primary research areas are laryngeal manipulation and singing voice acoustics.
Perna has presented research on three continents at notable events, such as the International Congress of Voice Teachers, the Voice Foundation’s Annual Symposium on the Care of the Professional Voice, and the NATS National Conference. He has written several articles in professional publications, including the Journal of Singing, the Journal of Voice, and VOICEPrints, and has served on the faculty of Donald G. Miller’s Singing Voice Science Workshop and the New England Conservatory Acoustic Vocal Pedagogy Workshop.
He was a recent finalist for the American Prize for men in opera and has recently appeared multiple times in leading roles with Opera Mississippi. Twice selected as a Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Artist singer, he is co-creator of the Comprehensive Britten Song Database, an open source guide to Benjamin Britten’s song output.
Perna said having a faculty member serve on the executive board of a national organization can be a real benefit to Mississippi College.
“It brings a lot of gravity to the campus,” Perna said. “Since part of my role in this position is to head up the student wing of this organization, it really gives our students firsthand access to the opportunities that NATS provides them, from auditions and competitions to the many services it offers.
“NATS has student-centric initiatives it is trying to start that can help them jump-start their careers in the profession, to get them to grow as singers and voice technicians, and it really creates a wonderful bridge as a way to get them involved in the leading professional organization in their discipline.”
Perna’s ascension to the vice presidency is not the only MC-related news coming from NATS: He and Sarah Pigott, a Mississippi College graduate and adjunct faculty member, have been selected to give a presentation at the organization’s 57th national conference in Chicago in July 2022. The pair, co-hosts of the weekly VocalFri podcast, part of the NATSCast Network, will present “Formant Vision: Strategies for the Learning and Teaching of Voice Acoustics.”
The duo also gave a virtual presentation at NATS’ national conference in 2020. Perna created and ran the innovative VocalFri podcast that joins “science, pedagogy, and pop culture,” for several years before NATS lent its support starting in 2020.
In the presentation next summer, “we will be attempting to give voice teachers strategic approaches on how to either learn or instruct vocal resonance,” Perna said.
Perna likened the rigorous nomination process for the NATS vice president of outreach position to interviewing for a new faculty post.
“One of the things I told the nominating committee was that NATS has done everything for me professionally,” he said. “Its organization and its members have been there for me throughout my career. I’m at the stage of my career where I’m looking for opportunities to give back.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity to serve the profession and to serve MC students and colleagues through this role as well.”