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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Sounds Like KPAC Winner Wows In First Solo Recital

Enid Krueger

At 17, Muffin Russell is already an accomplished singer. With multiple competitions behind her – including not just a few wins – she’s poised and confident in performance, with a talent few teenagers can imagine.

On Sunday, August 16th, The Saint Peter & Paul Young Artist Recital Series presented Russell in her first solo recital, and it is a preview of greatness to come. With Zachary Ridgway accompanying her, she performed a full recital of 13 pieces by Mozart, Handel, Gilbert and Sullivan and more.  

From the simple, haunting melody of Caccini’s “Ave Maria” to the student classic, “Have You Seen But a White Lily Grow?” Russell’s voice shined. Her talents were best displayed in a set of Mozart pieces. Her performance of “Ach, ich fühl’s” from Die Zauberflöte was perhaps the most emotional and evocative of the recital, with a definite maturity in the presentation. The standout performance, for the sheer beauty of the piece, was “Alleluia” from Exsultate Jubilate. Russell was certainly up to the challenge, filling the church with a rich lower register and soaring high notes.

The second half of the recital featured two pieces from Handel, “Lascia Ch’io Pianga” and “Endless Pleasure, Endless Love.” Russell’s final set was lighter with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Think of Me” and the Gilbert and Sullivan piece “Sorry Her Lot Who Loves To Well.”

The final song, “Art is Calling for Me” from Victor Herbert’s The Enchantress, sums up Ms. Russell’s ambitions well.

Russell was the solo division winner in the 2015 Sounds Like KPAC Young Talent Competition, and she gushed as she spoke about the contest, remembering her shock at the judges’ choice because “singers never win!” In addition, Russell sings with the San Antonio Choral Society. With ten years of classical training behind her, Russell’s goal is to sing opera professionally, although she also can execute art songs and musical theatre with panache. If she continues as she has begun, few would doubt her future success.

Submissions for the 2016 Sounds Like KPAC Young Artist Talent Competition will open this fall. Listen to Texas Public Radio for more details as they become available.

Carin Lamontagne joined the Texas Public Radio team in October 2012. She graduated from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) in 1996 with a B.A. in history, and she also studied anthropology and vocal music performance.