Established in 1983, the Young Artist Competition (YAC) is held each year in the early Fall for college students engaged in the pursuit of a musical career who are associated with Texas in one of two ways: 1. Either live in or are from Texas 2. Attend an accredited Texas University or College. Competitors must be under 25 years of age on the day of the competition; with the exception being voice students who cannot be older than 30 years of age on the day of competition.


Spotlight On 2016-2017 Winner

Living life to a sound track is easy for Mid-Texas Symphony’s 2016-2017 Young Artist Competition winner, Rebekah Howell, soprano, whose symphonic debut had the audience on its feet begging for more as she performed with the 67-piece professional orchestra. She has been singing since she could walk and has always turned everything from making mac and cheese to sweeping the floor into a song. 

“When I was little,” says the vibrant 25-year old ginger beauty, “I would sing about anything. Being a singer means being a storyteller with your voice. I love that part of being a singer,” she enthuses. “It is what I hope I always reflect in my performances.”

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There are few stories as compelling as those told in the form of opera – the musical story-telling format that won Howell the title of YAC winner, a $1000 first place prize, and a contract to debut with MTS. She opened with "Par le Rang" from The Daughter of the Regiment by Donizetti and followed with "Glitter and Be Gay" from Bernstein’s Candide

Hailed as “a hoot” with “plenty of high notes and comic gusto”, Howell is making her mark as a firecracker in both musical theater and opera. Recently she made her debut in the 2015-16 season at IU Opera Theater as Ado Annie in Oklahoma! And Adele in Die Fledermaus. Other recent stage credits include Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute), Samantha (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), Blondchen (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Olympia (Prima Donna), Flora (The Turn of the Screw), Sister Constance de St. Denis (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Belinda (Dido & Aeneas), and Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro).

Her first public performances were at church. “My church has always valued music,” she says. “I had my first performance experiences in children’s choir, church drama productions, adult choir, and as a soloist in services.”

“I started taking voice lessons when I was 13 years old, and I still take voice lessons today! The voice is an instrument that always changes, so voice lessons are always part of being a singer,” she explains. “My first “real” performance was singing a duet with a friend in my middle school choir’s Pop Show. We sang For Good from Wicked.” 

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An avid art song enthusiast, Rebekah performed as a young artist at SongFest in Los Angeles in 2015, where she was a recipient of the Ruth Williams Scholarship. She worked with exceptional faculty artists including John Aler, Amy Burton, Jake Heggie, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Susanne Mentzer, Ann Murray, John Musto, and Dawn Upshaw. In 2014, she completed a summer residency in the Studio Artists Program with Chautauqua Opera. During her time there, she created the title role in their first pastiche outreach opera, Alice & Alex in Operaland, and at the end of the program, she received an Encouragement Award. In the summer of 2013, she participated in the Studio Artists Program at Opera in the Ozarks.

Her professional debut in opera was with Chautauqua Opera as a Studio Artist in 2014. Since that time, she has worked at perfecting her craft and obtaining a Master’s Degree at the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. This summer she returns to Chautauqua Opera as a studio artist to cover Norina in Don Pasquale.

For Howell singing is not what she “does” but rather life choices set to song, “As a singer, I have learned that at the end of a phrase you must “release” the phrase that just ended and “reset” for the following phrase. This vocal technique is also an excellent principle for life: “release” what is past, and “reset” for what is to come, “she says.