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Pictured, from left, are Mark Mixon, Kaiyan Wang, Assistant Professor of Voice Penelope Shumate, Rachel Mason, Mariah Walker and Joshua Pitt.
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WIU Voice Studio Students Honored at Regional Conference

November 12, 2019

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MACOMB, IL -- On Nov. 3, students of Western Illinois University Assistant Professor of Voice Penelope Shumate were named as award winners at the Central Region National Association of Teacher of Singing (NATS) Conference and Student Auditions in Iowa City, IA.

WIU sophomore music education major Joshua Pitt, of Racine, WI, won first place (Lower Classical Tenor/Baritone/Bass Division), and senior music major Mark Mixon, of Chicago, IL, won second place (Upper Classical Tenor/Baritone/Bass Division). In addition, Shumate's voice students, music graduate student Kaiyan Wang, of China; music graduate student Rachel Mason, of Indianapolis, IN; and junior music major Mariah Walker, of St. Louis, MO, were also selected as semi-finalists in their divisions.

Shumate's students performed with WIU Collaborative Pianists Liang-yu Wang and Po-Chuan Chiang. This marks two consecutive first place NATS wins within Shumate's studio. Her student, senior music major soprano Claire Ryterski, of Columbia, IL, won first place in 2018 (Upper Classical Treble Division), and also performed with Chiang.

Shumate's recent professional performance activities include her debut in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as the soprano soloist for a recording of "Messiah" at historic Abbey Road Studios and her selection as the first place winner of The American Prize in the Oratorio Division. 

Her upcoming "Messiah" engagements include her 15th soloist appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York, returning to the Downers Grove Choral Society and her debut with the Morton Community Chorus and Orchestra. With Downers Grove, she will also perform Vivaldi's "Magnificat," and she also returns to the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association to perform Dvořák's "Te Deum." She also debuts with the Evanston Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven's 9th.

For her debut with Opera in the Heights, Shumate was selected by composer Anthony Brandt to create the title role in his new opera, "Kassandra," for the world premiere performance. For her fourth consecutive season in a leading role with the Muddy River Opera Company, she will perform Josephine in "H.M.S. Pinafore."

For more information about the WIU School of Music, visit

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