/News/McCloskey Places 2nd in National Singing Contest
McCloskey Places 2nd in National Singing Contest
June 30, 2020
Belton, Texas – On Sunday, June 28, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor freshman Christopher McCloskey placed 2nd in the 2020 National Student Auditions during the acclaimed National Association of Teachers of Singing, Inc. (NATS) Virtual National Conference.
Over 750 participants applied to be considered for the singing competition. As a freshman, McCloskey was entered in the Lower Music Theater category. To apply, he submitted three performances via YouTube. On May 27, he learned that he had been selected as one of 14 semifinalists. Then on June 21, when NATS announced the 3 finalists in each category, McCloskey learned he had made the cut.
“It’s pretty incredible and very humbling,” McCloskey said.
"On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady
From the age of seven until high school, McCloskey had to endure 15 different surgeries. Medical conditions and injuries left him in a wheelchair from 5th grade all the way through 8th. After a hip replacement, McCloskey regained the ability to walk and was able to attend a public high school. A friend, who had heard him singing inside a Whataburger, encouraged McCloskey to join the choir.
God was tugging at my heart, telling me, ‘This is how you’re going to bring me glory.
McCloskey made the most of his high school choir experience. As a senior, he auditioned for and was invited to be a part of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) All-State Choir, where he first encountered representatives from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The following year, he found himself at UMHB, studying voice under Penny Hogan, who he calls Mama Hogie.
“I love her so much,” McCloskey said. “It’s been a blessing getting to know her more and working together on my voice.”
He has this natural gift. I just try to help him keep that wonderful, unique sound.
Assistant Professor of Music
Despite seeing McCloskey’s potential, Hogan was reluctant to push him to audition for NATS this year, as he was already involved in choir, One Voice, and the spring musical.
“I could tell that he wanted to do it,” Hogan said, “but I know he felt overwhelmed.”
McCloskey says he made the decision to participate just two weeks before the deadline to enter. The competition required each vocalist to select three pieces and submit them via YouTube.
McCloskey quickly chose "On the Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady and "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" from 70, Girls, 70. He was already familiar with those songs, having used them in a previous singing competition. For his third piece, he chose “Go the Distance,” from Hercules. His goal he said was to feature everything his voice could do, from classic, vibrato-filled Broadway to, what he calls “pure, belty, contemporary.”
"Coffee in a Cardboard Cup" from 70, Girls, 70
In a typical year, the semifinalists would be invited to perform live during the NATS National Conference. Due to COVID-19, however, this year’s conference was moved online. Semifinalists were judged on the same three YouTube videos. Then on Sunday, McCloskey watched the livestream of the final round. Each finalist selected just one of his/her videos to be played, judged, and ranked live.
Before he learned the results of the competition, McCloskey enjoyed getting to watch each of the other performances, especially those of the older students competing in the Upper Musical Theater category.
“It was just so encouraging to see people a little further along in their college career and see what they’ve achieved,” McCloskey said. “It was a blessing.”
“Go the Distance,” from Hercules
Of his own achievement, finishing second in the nation in his category of Musical Theater, McCloskey says only that the glory belongs to God and that he is proud to have represented the university and his teachers well. The success has inspired McCloskey to set new goals for himself.
“I plan on hunkering down this year and really studying jazz performance,” McCloskey said. “I want to seek out opportunities to go to theaters and perform.”
“He’s gotten a fire lit under him,” Hogan said. “He’s so easy and fun to teach because he’s so receptive, and he works hard.”
Ultimately, McCloskey hopes to earn his Actors Equity card and pursue a career on Broadway.