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Then and Now: Arts and Humanities

January 06, 2020

Eduardo Valdes '83

B.M.E, University of Mount Union
M.M., Cleveland Institute of Music, Case Western Reserve University

An illustrious career of 692 performances on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera might not have been the future of Eduardo Valdes ’83 had it not been for Mount Union’s International Concert Tour.

Valdes, a solo principal artist at The Met for 26 years, was intending to follow a career in medicine in his native Puerto Rico while using music as a therapy of sorts. He was part of a choir that volunteered to help the Mount Union Concert Choir while they were on tour in Puerto Rico in 1979 when he met Dr. Gordon Brock, who heard him sing and encouraged him to audition.

From that point on, Valdes knew that, with hard work, he could make his passion into a career. He offered his vocal and percussion talents to six different ensembles during his time on campus, while also performing in two theatre productions. That level of co-curricular involvement prepared him for the demands of his professional career while offering plenty of great opportunities.

“There are so, so many great memories it is hard to pick just one,” Valdes said. “Mount Union was the perfect environment for me, and you don’t often realize how special your experience was until you graduate and leave.”

Upon graduating, Valdes went on to earn a master’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music at Case Western Reserve University. He credits his Mount Union education as a foundation for success in a rigorous program.

Valdes believes that the arts are an integral component in helping students of all levels not only become more disciplined through frequent practice, but also express their creativity while pursuing other career paths.

“I would say that 75 percent of those on The Met’s Wall of Fame did not start out their lives thinking they would be opera singers,” Valdes said. “They found this path because they had opportunities presented to them to realize their talent.”

Today, Valdes, who is on the Wall of Fame himself, is taking his experience on one of the world’s most prolific stages and passing it onto the next generation of performers.

“Not only am I working in one of the most important houses in the world, but I have had the best first-hand knowledge performing with some of the best in the world,” Valdes said. “There is a big shift happening in the art form, and I am happy that I have the experience I can pass along to other performers.”

Valdes’ goals for the future, beyond performing at The Met, include expanding his teaching through V-2 Studios (Valdes Voice Studios) in New York and leading masterclasses around the world, like those he gave to students on campus in 2016 and 2018.

Mark Bruns '22

B.S., Computer Engineering, University of Mount Union

Mark Bruns ’22 is just a regular college student — except that his daily schedule is turned up to the maximum level. Instead of getting the “normal” college experience, Bruns chose to dive head first into multiple commitments on campus. On top of being a computer engineering major, which is a rigorous new program, he is also part of the Mount Union Concert Choir and the men’s volleyball team.

For Bruns, choosing the right university was no easy task. He knew he wanted to sing in a choir and also play volleyball at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, only a small number of universities offer men’s volleyball right now. With this limitation, being in choir can sometimes interfere with the volleyball schedule.

In order to keep up with everything on his plate, Bruns attributes his success so far to one simple thing: time management.

“Scheduling classes earlier on and getting work done in advance have helped me stay on top of everything so far,” Bruns said, “It’s all about time management. A lot of people fall into the habit of procrastinating and pushing things back. You just need to set goals and stick to them.”

When asked about being part of the recently introduced men’s volleyball team, which had its inaugural season in 2019, Bruns had nothing but praise. The chemistry on the team is “much better than other teams,” he said.

As a new team, there are no seniors. Since everyone is around the same age, he stated that everyone can build a strong connection with each other. Bruns has big expectations for himself and the rest of the team this year, as they look to build a winning culture in their second season as a program.

Bruns has also had to balance all of his commitments with traveling for choir and volleyball. When volleyball is in season from January through May, traveling for hours on end every week is guaranteed. In addition to this, he also had the opportunity to travel internationally with the choir, including a trip to Scotland in June.

His major, like the volleyball program, is also new. Mount Union’s computer engineering major is “tough, and has a lot of coursework,” according to Bruns. Many of the classes only have a select number of students in them, which has allowed him to make really close connections with his professors and his peers.

Though Bruns has joined many new programs and has many commitments to attend to, it hasn’t been easy to maintain balance. Through hard work and dedication, he has thrived during his time on campus.

Upon graduation from Mount Union, Bruns plans to attend graduate school. After that, he hopes to start a career in the computer engineering field.