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Opera fans in the Magnolia State are accustomed to seeing Dr. Nicholas Perna, associate professor of voice and voice pedagogy at Mississippi College, performing on stage.

This weekend, they’ll have an opportunity to watch from afar as he appears in a completely different venue: one of the country’s most beloved ballparks.

A finalist for the American Prize for men in opera, Perna has had leading roles in several Opera Mississippi performances. On Saturday evening, he is scheduled to be a part of a sextet that will sing the National Anthem before the Boston Red Sox-Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball game at storied Wrigley Field.

The vocal group will be representing the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Perna, the organization’s vice president for outreach, is in the “Windy City” to attend the 57th annual NATS National Conference July 1-6.

The game is set to be broadcast nationally at 6 p.m. on July 2 by Fox Sports Network as one of its Baseball Night in America selections. The local Fox affiliate is WDBD Channel 40 in Jackson. Perna may also be seen on each team’s regional television broadcast – New England Sports Network in Boston and Marquee Sports Network in Chicago – available for streaming at mlb.tv.

Singing in front of an anticipated sellout crowd at a Major League stadium is a first for Perna, although he has performed as a soloist in front of very large audiences. He also has sung the “Star Spangled Banner” before smaller events, such as marathons and local opening ceremonies.

Admittedly not a baseball fan, Perna does recognize the significance of the occasion, especially the opportunity to “represent the organization which means so much to me and to whom so much of my professional work is dedicated to,” he said.

The largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world, NATS’ mission is to advance excellence in singing through teaching performance, scholarship, and research.

A NATS member since he turned professional and president-elect of the Mississippi chapter, Perna has served in many roles for the organization, including governor of West Virginia, treasurer for the Southern region, and poster paper coordinator for the association’s national conference.

As VP for outreach, he leads to student part of the organization – often referred to as SNATS – overseeing the decision-making and use of its discretionary funds, and working with the vice president of membership to form relationships with new members.

Allen Henderson, executive director of NATS, arranged the appearance with the Cubs. Perna works directly with Henderson on initiatives to help the organization partner with other professional groups to move the mission of NATS forward.

Perna’s visit to Chitown won’t be all about brats with mustard and ivy-covered Friendly Confines. He’ll be sure to let everyone know the Red Sox-Cubs isn’t the only attraction this weekend.

The NATS conference will focus on the participatory act of singing, including 65 breakout sessions infused by live, in-person performances.

“It’s not uncommon that we (NATS members) do a bit of ‘takeover’ when we have a National Conference in a city,” Perna said.

MageeNews.com is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.

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Patrice, wife of Greg Boykin & mother of two sons, Bradley & Alex, is a Magee hometown girl. Patrice retired after 25 years in the Insurance industry and 23 of those years were with State Farm Insurance in Magee. She is very active in the community where she served as Secretary for the Magee Touchdown Club for 18 years and President of the MS Scholars of Simpson County. She was elected to a term on the Simpson County School Board. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Magee Chamber of Commerce. She serves on the Keep Magee Beautiful Committee and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Simpson County Technical Center. Multiple times, Patrice was named Parent of the Year for Magee Schools as well as District Parent of the Year. Patrice & her family are members of New Hope Baptist Church.

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