by Lisa Mills Walters, Published March 15, 2012
Maria Alejandra Velasquez, soprano, has been named the winner of the Graduate Music Competition for her rendition of Vincenzo Bellini's "Oh: Quante, volte from I Capuleti e i Montecchi."
Velasquez hails from Medellin, Colombia, where she studied Music Education at the Universidad de Antioquia. She received her degree in Music with an emphasis in Voice from the Universidad EAFIT. Velasquez says she sang as a child but only became serious about it when she was 18.
She enrolled in EMU just this semester, having chosen Eastern because of the "very good things" she had heard about it from other students in Colombia and because she liked the program the Music Department had to offer. Her audition for entrance into the program was done via Skype with Professor MeeAe Nam, who says, "I liked her passion to learn. She has so much maturity in dealing with opportunities and creating ideas." Dr. Nam says that Velasquez "digests ideas 100% and then brings even more back." Velasquez likes that EMU's program is quite small and she can get a lot of individual attention.
Of her competition selection, Valesquez says, "It's a lovely piece. Juliet is very sad to marry someone else when she is in love with Romeo." Dr. Nam says Velasquez's theatrical approach to music worked well with this piece and that this aria is good for her range. It also demands the skills she has; Dr. Nam added, "She could emotionally connect to this music, and being in Italian, it was close to her native Spanish."
Velasquez says she never thought she would win and couldn't believe it when she learned she had. Professor Nam, knowing that Velasquez is a perfectionist, had told her to compete in order to share, not to win, so she took that advice and enjoyed performing. Velasquez says that Dr. Nam's instruction and guidance are what she appreciates most in the short time she's been working with her. Velasquez says the work is fun and that she loves her voice lessons and going to class.
In addition to opera, Velasquez likes popular and contemporary music, especially Latin American music. Professor Nam says that Velasquez will bring this music to EMU students and will be able to coach them. This will "globalize the whole department"; Dr. Nam is looking forward to the integration of the American students here with the music of other cultures.
Velasquez will graduate in April 2014 with a Master's of Music in Vocal Performance. She hopes to participate in more competitions and perform as much as possible. Dr. Nam is looking for off-campus opportunities and festivals and hopes that Velasquez will be exposed to different types of auditions and will create a network of people from other disciplines and fields.
On the day of the Graduate Research Fair, Velasquez will perform "The Piper" by Ralph Vaughan Williams with Emily White, oboe, at the Awards Reception at 5:00 in the Grand Ballroom.