Ticket feature: ENMU alumnus, opera singer returning for homecoming

Jared Tucker

ENMU alumnus and acclaimed opera singer Manuel Melendez will be in Portales at this year’s homecoming festivities.

Manuel Melendez will be attending a breakfast ceremony to celebrate the newly renovated music building at ENMU, and will honor Melendez’s high school and college instructor, George Umberson.

[image#1, align=right, size=medium] Melendez graduated ENMU in 1965 and quickly moved on to perform in many important performances around the world according to Naxos, a classical music label.

“He has been acclaimed for performances of the music of Spanish Zarzuela, the classic popular songs of Mexico and folk Masses from Latin America,” according to the biography on www.naxos.com.

During his days at ENMU, Melendez said he was kept busy by the university choir, the opera workshop, the Swanee, and the spring grand opera. He said those were the performances that consumed his time and steered him towards a professional career, along with a personal invitation from Umberson in high school.

“He called me personally to strongly suggest becoming a member of his music program starting that fall at the high school,” Melendez said, in a letter to the ENMU foundation May 16.

Shortly after he left Eastern, Melendez said he auditioned and became the soloist for the United States Air Force Band in Washington, D.C., and during that time was sent on a tour to South America on president’s orders.

Melendez now works as the international relations liaison at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and since leaving the Air Force has made many appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra for several concerts and guest-performed with the Washington Opera.

Melendez was featured in the recording and performance of the album “Missia Criolla” by Ariel Ramirez, released in November 2005.

Melendez said his career would not have been possible if not for the confidence instilled in him by Umberson.

“I am honored to join my colleagues in contributing to this well-earned tribute,” said Melendez.