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Young singer debuts during Chatter Varsity concert

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia Prep senior Walker Durrell spent his high school years setting up the sound board and lighting for Chatter.

DURRELL: To perform two works by Gerald Finzi

DURRELL: To perform two works by Gerald Finzi

Chatter presents a full spectrum of chamber music from Baroque through the 20th century in unconventional and intimate venues between sips of coffee or wine.

While working the wiring and knobs and helming occasional barista duty, Durrell absorbed an overdose of sound that turned him into a music junkie.

The young singer will make his vocal debut with Chatter Varsity next Sunday at the Factory on Fifth.

The concert marks the young musician’s second turn on the Chatter stage. He first played the oboe there in 2011, Chatter associate artistic director James Shields said.

As his passion for music grew, Durrell was torn between focusing on either his voice or the oboe. A member of the Santa Fe Opera Young Voices program, he decided on singing. Next Sunday he’ll perform British choral composer Gerald Finzi’s “Fear No More the Heat of the Sun” and “O Mistress Mine.”

“He realized he’d better focus on one or the other,” Shields said. “He’s got a beautiful voice and he’s a go-getter. He’s a very thoughtful kid. He’s interested in all kinds of music.”

Durrell recently endured a grueling series of music school auditions, including the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, the Chicago College of Performing Arts, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Oregon. He’s already received several offers.

“He’s a super-smart kid and a hard worker,” Shields said. “It’s been great to watch him growing up. He’s a real sharp dresser,” he added with a laugh, “that’s a really good sign of a budding vocalist.”

The program will continue with Beethoven’s Spring Sonata and Grieg’s Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano performed by Chatter founder/violinist David Felberg and pianist Natasha Marin. Marin is a Russian-born classical pianist who works with both orchestras and ensembles. She and her husband, the actor/comedian Cheech Marin, will be in Albuquerque as part of Legacy Art 2015, a week of concerts, galas, parties and other events focused on raising money for students in the arts.

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