Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Vocal performance graduate student finds artistic challenge and community

School of Music graduate student Raul Valdez '19 (right) performs in a production of Fledermaus & Friends at the University of Texas at El Paso in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Raul Valdez)

Due to the encouragement of an undergraduate vocal professor, Raul Valdez ’19 traveled from Texas to California to audition for the vocal performance graduate program at the University of Redlands School of Music. Unexpectedly, he found his new home. 

“When I auditioned here, I felt the most comfortable,” says Valdez. “I knew that the professors were willing to get to know me and would encourage me to surpass my goals.” 

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Valdez switched his undergraduate major from engineering to music after discovering that he felt more at home in the arts. “I always felt the music community was my community,” he says. “When I joined my first choir, I realized that music isn’t about the competition, it’s about being part of an ensemble and what people can do together.”  

Valdez says that studying voice and opera with U of R Professor Marco Schindelmann has been a highlight of his experience as a vocal performance student. Schindelmann has helped him conquer both homesickness and opera workshops—feats that enabled Valdez to be selected to perform in the 2018 President’s Honor Recital. 

Since 1983, the President’s Honor Recital has showcased outstanding performers in the University of Redlands School of Music. This year, Valdez is one of two vocalists who will be performing. “It felt pretty amazing to be selected for the recital,” says Valdez. “I was selected based on my audition for my final exam last semester, so I didn’t even know I was being considered.”

Valdez notes that opportunities to work with live orchestras while studying at the University of Redlands have given him a unique experience. “It was amazing to work with The Who last September, and I’m excited to perform in Dido & Aeneas and work with the King Singers in April. I’ve never performed a lead role in an opera with full orchestra, so the opportunity to do that is exciting,” he says.

The sense of community in the School of Music makes it all worthwhile, according to Valdez. “It’s about building each other up and seeing what we can do together,” he says. 

The President’s Honor Recital will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 4, in the Memorial Chapel on the main Redlands campus. Admission is free and open to the public.