Vocal talents propel Charles City’s Haglund into elite status
By James Grob, email@example.com
Charles City’s Anders Haglund doubled down on his vocal music talents this year, as he has reached the semifinals in two categories in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Student Auditions.
Haglund, who is just wrapping up his junior year at Charles City High School, has been selected to compete at the 57th NATS national conference. The high school semifinal and final rounds will occur live on Friday, July 1, at Roosevelt University in Chicago and the finals will take place that evening.
Haglund reached the semifinals in the categories of high school classical and high school musical theatre. Last year as a sophomore, he made it into the preliminary round in the classical category.
“I wasn’t even expecting to make the semifinals in one category,” Haglund said. “To make it in both, I didn’t know what to think.”
In order to participate in the national rounds of these auditions, students of NATS members must qualify by performing during their region auditions.
The top five singers from each eligible region category advance to the national online preliminary round. Haglund is in the North Central region that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Each singer who advances from a region audition must apply and submit videos of their performances for adjudication by a panel of international judges in the national preliminary round.
Fourteen singers from each of the 18 categories advance to the national semifinal round. From there, the top three singers from each category compete in the national final round.
Haglund’s vocal music teacher, Scott Blankenbaker, said he’s had a few students advance to the preliminary round of Nationals, but this is the first time he’s had someone advance to the semifinals.
“This year he also moved to to upper high school division, and so the competition level was more difficult,” said Blankenbaker.
Blankenbaker lives in Charles City and has been a music instructor at Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota, for one 20 years. He’s also the director of the Charles City Singers. Haglund has been taking lessons from Blankenbaker since his freshman year.
“He really is the ideal student,” Blankenbaker said. “He comes prepared, he’s excited about learning and he has the talent to go with it.”
Haglund was selected out of more than 2,900 video submissions. Blankenbaker said that everything was all video submissions up until now, and that this is the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that the organization has been able to have live auditions.
Haglund sang three pieces in each category, and said the two different categories have different styles of singing and totally different styles of presentation.
“When it comes to musical theater, you have to be very animated when you sing,” Haglund said. “When you’re singing classical, it has to be more subtle.”
In the classical category, Haglund sang an Italian aria by Vivaldi, a classical piece in German and a classical piece in English. In the musical theater category, Haglund sang “Grow For Me” from “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Run Away With Me” from “The Mad Ones” and “Winter’s On The Wing” from “The Secret Garden.”
He said that singing in languages he doesn’t speak is a challenge, although he previously has sung songs in Italian.
“This is the first year that I’ve sang in German,” he said. “It’s really hard to sing both German and Italian well, and Scott has really helped me in that process.”
Blankenbaker said, “Italian is a pretty easy language to sing. German, however, isn’t usually introduced until a student reaches a certain level of proficiency. It is much more difficult, and pretty rare in high school.”
Haglund said he first had to learn to speak through the parts as clearly as he could before he started to try singing them.
“I had to make sure that every consonant and every vowel was exactly correct,” he said. “It gets to be a headache really fast.”
Haglund said he has been singing since he was in about 5th grade, and started taking lessons in 8th grade. At CCHS, he is involved in the CCHS drama production and the CCHS musical, in cross country, in jazz band, in the high school vocal music group Rhymes With Orange and performing solo ensemble in vocal music competition, among many other things.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given to express my talent and my craft,” Haglund said. “Charles City has really been a great community, and been so supportive of me the entire way.”
Haglund said that he would love to pursue a career in music after he finishes high school.