Oxford man wins natl. singing competition

Robert Skylis, of Oxford, earned first place honors in the Lower College Division/Independent Studio Men category at the National Association of the Teachers of Singers (NATS) annual conference, held in Chicago, Illinois July 8-11.

Speakers from major universities around the country presented at the conference and a singing competition was held. Top performers from around the country sang. Students competed at various levels, ranging from high school to college and beyond.


Skylis, who just completed his sophomore year at Oakland University, was one of four people to make it to the final round.

His performance of “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” by Franz Lehar won him the judges’ recognition as the finest Lower College male voice currently studying with a NATS teacher throughout North America.

Skylis sang in choir and performed in musicals during his high school days at Brother Rice in Bloomfield Hills. But he did not take singing seriously until he began attending Oakland University two years ago.

“That’s the thing about the voice, it’s one of those instruments that you are better off starting later because it takes longer to mature,” he said. “I might not be fully mature vocally until (age) 35, maybe. You go through different changes in the process, but it’s totally like working out. It’s a training thing and you really gotta keep up with it . . . and keep your voice moving, even if it’s five, six days a week.”

Skylis has worked with Vocal Coach Victoria Shively for the past two years.

He’s also studied with Drake Dantzler, opera performer and assistant professor of music, voice at Oakland University.

“(Dantzler’s) a phenomenal musician,” Skylis said.

“He’s got impeccable technique. He’s just a great guy and a great teacher.”

Earning this national honor in Chicago made Skylis feel as though his countless hours of practicing and studying are finally paying off.

“It’s a testament to the hard work that I’ve put into this craft,” he said. “I practice for hours (each) week and sometimes it’s not always fun . . . but this was a chance to travel a little bit, get into the city, experience the energy there,” Skylis said.

“It’s a great win for the school, as well. Oakland’s up and coming. People can write the school off sometimes because it’s smaller than (the University of Michigan), but we’re serious here at Oakland. We have some great faculty and staff and great voice teachers.”

Skylis will perform as part of a public recital on Sunday, July 31 at 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s In-The-Hills Episcopal Church, located at 2512 Joslyn Court in Orion Township. He will be performing with Oakland University graduate Mark Hosseini.

Admission is free, however, donations to St. Mary’s will be accepted to benefit local singing students.

“The church usually tries to hire students to come in and sing for services, so all the proceeds are going towards that fund, so they can continue to pay students from OU or whatever guest soloists come in that particular week,” Skylis said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *