Pictured above, from left: Dr. Anthony Radford, Alejandra Tejeda and Dr. Maria Briggs

~ By Taylor Blaire Mosher, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

The College of Arts and Humanities takes pride in supporting the wide range of creative and academic endeavors of students and faculty — endeavors made possible through generous gifts made to the Dean’s Council Annual Fund.

In January, Dean’s Council funds helped yet another Arts and Humanities student experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Thanks to the generosity of Dean’s Council donors, travel funding was provided to master’s of music student and opera singer Alejandra Tejeda, who attended the prestigious National Opera Association‘s annual convention Jan. 3-7, in New Orleans. 

The convention is attended by hundreds of opera professionals each year and features several seminars, speeches and presentations by leading operatic artists.

Tejeda was joined by Fresno State Opera professor Anthony Radford, composer Evan Mack and librettist Joshua McGuire to present their work on an original children’s opera, “Lucinda y las Flores de la Nochebuena,” which was commissioned and performed by Fresno State Opera Theatre in 2016. Voice professor Dr. Maria Briggs also attended the conference in New Orleans.

“Lucinda” is a one-act opera based on a Mexican folktale about the spirit of giving and the origin of poinsettias at Christmas time. Tejeda played the title role in the production, which had several performances across the Valley, with special performances for several elementary schools in the area. In all, about 2,500 area schoolchildren had the opportunity to see the performance.

Tejeda, Radford, Mack and McGuire presented a special program during the conference, discussing the impact the piece had on the community. Tejeda performed select songs from the opera, inspired by Spanish mariachi music.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to showcase ‘Lucinda’ in New Orleans,” Tejeda said. “I want to showcase the beauty of Mexico, because we tend to overlook it. Operatic and classical music tends to focus on European cultures, but Mexico and Latin America hold so many beautiful stories.”

The National Opera Association Convention not only offered Tejeda an opportunity to showcase her Hispanic heritage before acclaimed operatic professionals, but the conference also serves as a critical networking opportunity that may help to launch her career. Tejeda completed her master’s degree this December and hopes to pursue a career in operatic performance.

Tejeda says she was grateful for the Dean’s Council support of her trip to New Orleans and is appreciative of the many opportunities Fresno State afforded her during her time as a Bulldog. At the recent Arts and Humanities State of the College, Tejada talked about what the experience of attending the national conference meant to her:

“I was exposed to other people my age that are also involved in opera. It allowed me to create connections. … And I was able to represent my school and the great opportunity it bears. I was able to show opera directors and professors at a national level the artistic beauty we shared with children, and I had the opportunity to sing for them!”

Tejada expressed her thanks for the Dean’s Council funds that made it possible for her to take part in the trip.

“I’m very grateful for every opportunity Fresno State has given me,” Tejeda said. “I come from a minority and not a lot of minorities get opportunities like this or even think they are deserving of them. I would love to pave the way for the next generation.”

Want to help support students like Tejeda? Visit www.fresnostate.edu/artshum/giving/ or call the College of Arts and Humanities Development Office at 559.278.1877 to learn how you can make a difference for students and faculty in the College of Arts and Humanities.