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Tenors Byrd ’20 and Toverud ’19 shine at national competition

Assistant Professor of Voice Grant Knox (center) is flanked by Tyrese Byrd (left) and Bergsvein Toverud (right), finalists in the 55th NATS competition in Las Vegas.

After impressive performances at both state and regional National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competitions held earlier this year, two Furman University vocalists won the opportunity to compete on the national stage. Bergsvein Toverud (music education), a senior from Lenoir, North Carolina and Tyrese Byrd (vocal performance), a junior from Williamston, South Carolina competed in the semifinals and finals of the National Student Auditions, part of the 55th NATS competition held June 22-26 in Las Vegas. And they didn’t disappoint, winning third place in their divisions at the event where they contended among 200 vocalists.

Toverud appears as the witch in Knox’s staging of Englebert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” earlier this year.

But before getting a chance to compete in the semis, the two were required to submit YouTube videos for the preliminary round. Toverud’s can be viewed here, and Byrd’s video is found here. Having made the cut, the top 14 in their respective divisions, the tenors matriculated to the live semifinal round where they obviously continued to shine.

Byrd (center) performs in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” staged by Knox in 2017.

Only the top three or four singers in each category from the semifinals advanced to the live national final. Said Furman Professor of Voice Grant Knox, “Tyrese and Bergsvein were the only two tenors competing in the college classical competition at this level. This is remarkable considering the size of our music program. It says a lot about the type of student and level of talent we have here.”

Knox believes no other school came away with two finalists at the competition. And besides acknowledging the raw talent students brought to the event, Knox gives a nod to Furman. “These types of successes would not be possible without Furman’s support and encouragement. These students come to Furman because they feel the university values music and the arts. I look forward to celebrating more achievements like these in the years to come,” he said.

For more information, contact Grant Knox at 864-294-3034 and grant.knox@furman.edu.

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