169th Commencement Ceremony Held at Mount Union
May 09, 2015
ALLIANCE, Ohio – More than 480 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the University of Mount Union’s 169th Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 9 in the Peterson Field House of the McPherson Academic and Athletic Complex.
International students and faculty from Bolivia, China, France, Germany, Japan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Vietnam were among those participating in the ceremony, with flags of those nations displayed as part of the graduation regalia.
This year’s Commencement speaker was renowned tenor Eduardo Valdes ‘83, principal artist at the Metropolitan Opera Center in New York City.
Valdes, a solo principal artist, is on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera and is a voice teacher and voice advisor in New York City. He is a faculty member for The Bel Canto Institute’s summer program in Florence, Italy and Canto de las Americas, a workshop for aspiring artists in the vocal arts in New York City.
Valdes majored in music education at Mount Union. During his undergraduate career, he was a member of choir, marching band, concert band, brass choir, orchestra, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, American Guild of Organists, percussion ensemble, Sophomore Service Honorary, Association of International Students, An Evening in Vienna (1980), Snowball King (1981), Language Club, Student Senate, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Who’s Who, Blue Key and Fast.
After graduating from Mount Union, Valdes attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and Case Western Reserve University where he earned a Master of Music degree. He participated in the Israel Vocal Arts Institute (IVAI) and was a member of the Juilliard Opera Center. Valdes has sung in opera houses throughout the United States, South and Central America and Europe.
During his speech, Valdes encouraged recent graduates to do everything whole-heartedly with love, conviction and passion, because the simplest of jobs done well will make people take notice. He explained that his journey to Mount Union began in Puerto Rico when he participated in a choir that hosted the Mount Union Concert Choir on a tour. A pre-med student at the time, the experience with the Mount Union choir caused him to change directions and study music.
Valdes discussed how he started out as a percussionist at Mount Union but knew that singing was his passion. Though some people told him he was reaching too high and his dreams would never come true, others nurtured his ideas and dreams and encouraged him to apply for graduate programs in voice. He applied for various schools and was rejected by several, including The Julliard School of Music.
However, about eight years later when he was singing with the Israel Vocal Artists Institute in Tel Aviv, he got a call from Julliard wanting him to audition for the Julliard Opera Center.
“After my first aria, I heard Frank Corsaro, the stage director of the opera center, shouting into the room, ‘That is what I am looking for!’” Valdes recalls.
Valdes shared that in order to pay for voice lessons, he worked in retail in the watch department at Macy’s New York. He became known in the retail business as “the guy who could sell a watch to a watchmaker.”
During a concert with The Julliard Opera Center, the artistic directors from the Metropolitan Opera were in the audience. A week after performing the concert, Valdes received an invitation from the Metropolitan Opera to sing his first audition there.
Now, Valdes is entering a new phase of his dream as he sings, teaches at a small studio in New York City and travels internationally giving Master Classes. In addition, he is a member of the faculty of The Bel Canto Institute in Florence, Italy, as well as being on the faculty of the summer program, Canto de las Americas, in New York City.
“Anything is possible if you understand that some doors which close in front of you were not meant for you to walk through, and those which are opening are part of a master plan that the universe has in store for you and you alone,” Valdes said. “So always listen, because the signs are there. Sometimes a rejection is just a way for the universe to guide you to the right place, the place where you need to be.”
During the Commencement ceremony, Valdes was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the University of Mount Union.