Northwestern students pursuing professional opportunity with Enid Symphony

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Northwestern students pursuing professional opportunity with Enid Symphony

March 10, 2016

 Northwestern students performingNaicee Gugelmeyer (left), Alexandria Skinner (center) and Chance Mayhall (right) perform in a number of concerts at Northwestern, from formal productions to fun theatrical shows, and now are branching out for the opportunity of a lifetime with the Enid Symphony Orchestra for the opera “Carmen” on Saturday, April 2, and Sunday, April 3.

Three Northwestern Oklahoma State University Chorale singers will perform George Bizet’s “Carmen” with the Enid Symphony Orchestra, Saturday, April 2, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 3, at 2 p.m.

Naicee Gugelmeyer, a senior from South Barber, Kansas, majoring in vocal performance; Chance Mayhall, a junior from Ponca City, majoring in vocal education; and Alexandria Skinner, a senior from Burkburnett, Texas, majoring in vocal performance, were selected to perform following an audition process.
The students had to prepare an aria and a song in French for the audition because the opera’s dialog is in French.

Naicee Gugelmeyer and Chance Mayhall were able to sit down and visit with us on camera for the above video, and Alex Skinner was able to provide information for the written piece.
"One of the goals of the Enid Symphony Orchestra is to provide opportunities for emerging young artists to perform with veteran singers,” said Douglas Newell, music director. “Stage Director Zac Engle and I selected Alex, Chance and Naicee to perform supporting roles in ‘Carmen’ after a series of auditions. We expect that each will bring a special quality to the role in which they have been cast. They competed against students from OU, OCU, UCO and SNUin the audition process."

Engle echoed the comments of Newell saying how important it is for their production to have found and cast the talents of students in this region.

“As one can imagine, it is difficult to find any talent involved with opera in this area of the United States,” Engle said. “It is even more rare to find a well-qualified and highly talented group of singers such as these fine musicians that we have cast in our show. They are diamonds in the rough of this region.”

Cast as gypsies, Skinner will be playing Mercedes, and Gugelmeyer will be playing Frasquita. Mayhall will be playing El Remendado, a smuggler.

All three of the students are taking advantage of their vocal lessons and one-on-one time with their professors at Northwestern to help them prepare for their roles.

Gugelmeyer and Skinner gave praises to their voice lessons teacher Lawana Newell, instructor of music at Northwestern, for helping them to better learn their roles for the opera.

“Professor Newell has probably helped me prepare for this the most,” Skinner said. “As my private teacher she has helped me improve not only the quality of my voice, but my vocal health, my range, and the control I have over it.”

Mayhall also benefits from Newell’s private lessons, but mentioned how supportive the entire music faculty has been.

“Northwestern really gives you the opportunity to get to know your professors,” Mayhall said. “So, when I am needing help, I can just pop my head into their office, and they are always willing to lend a helping hand.”

Opportunities to be in a professional production often do not come along this soon in a career. Through networking and the desire to step outside their comfort zones these students are excited to see where this production will lead them.

“Speaking from experience, I know that having professional opportunities at this stage in their careers is informative to them as performing individuals,” Engle said. “They are the only singers in this region who can accomplish the task of their contracts in a meaningful and qualified way. Additionally, giving them an opportunity for a professional experience while they are still in their studies gives them a chance to safely practice in a practical way what they have learned during their studies at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.”

Many lessons, inside and outside the classroom, are being taught through this experience. All three students have stressed how time management has been key for them to manage their class schedules, added rehearsal schedules and learning their roles. They also have acknowledged the opportunities they see in their futures by accepting their roles in this production.

“This opportunity is helping me with my future career, not only performing but also learning the different languages and stylistic approaches to singing in an opera,” Gugelmeyer said. “With performing comes voice lessons. I can take all this that I’m learning now and apply it to later when I am teaching lessons to other people.”

Each student said without their experiences and growth in the music department at Northwestern being a part of this opera would not have been possible. Gugelmeyer and Mayhall said looking back at their decision to attend Northwestern they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“The quality of education you will get by being a part of the music department from this school is one that not a lot of people see at a smaller school,” Mayhall said. “You have all the opportunities to be involved in the school, plus go out in the real world and figure out what you want to do with your major.”

Tickets for this production are on sale now at from $15-70 dollars but could sell out soon.

An extended interview with Mayhall and Gugelmeyer can be viewed on the Northwestern YouTube channel or by clicking here. For more information on Northwestern’s vocal music program or upcoming concerts, contact Karsten Longhurst, instructor of music, at or at (580) 327-8692.