The Costa Rican horn Hugo Valverde Villalobos, aged 22 years, was chosen to be part of the prestigious New York Metropolitan Opera House. The young musician participated alongside other 90 contestants in the auditions carried out in the theater that is located in the Lincoln Center in New York City.

Hugo Valverde has studied music since he was 7. He is originally from Barva de Heredia and his hobby is mountain – cycling. He says that this is just the beginning of a dream for which he has been preparing himself for over 10 years. In September, he will join the most prominent music institution of the United States.

Valverde said that he has been supported by many people, his former Costa Rican professor, and his American teachers.

Hugo Valverde Villalobos
Hugo Valverde Villalobos

The musician started his preparation at Escuela de Musica in Barva de Heredia. Then, he got a place at the Costa Rica National Music School. In 2012, he was granted a scholarship to take a Master’s degree in music at the Lynn University in Florid. Finally, he got a place at the Rice University in Houston, where he finally finished his studies.

Once he learned that he had been chosen to work New York Metropolitan Opera, he spoke about his experience in a recent interview and answered a series of questions related to his last accomplishments.

Did you make your dream true?

“When I arrived in the United States, one of my first goals was to be admitted in a renowned orchestra. This is an opera orchestra, and it is probably the best in the world. I’ve been studying a lot since I’ve been living here to get a place in the “Major Leagues” of the orchestras.

Who have been your mentors? Who has influenced you most?

Professor Luis Murillo in Costa Rica, he always had time to teach me and he was very patient because he wanted to bring out the best of me. In the United States, I met Gregory Miller at the Lynn University. He told me many times that I had to work really hard during those four years in that institute if I wanted to be included in the Chicago Symphony, or in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. I have also been working with William VerMeulen since I got my Master’s. I improved a lot thanks to his recommendations. He’s a very popular teacher because many of his students have gotten hired to play in the best orchestras of the country”.

How was the audition?

“The audition lasted two days full of emotion and intensity. My preparation was three months long. As I am a student, and I wasn’t working in an orchestra, they asked me to send them a CD with a sample and previous work.  The auditions were Monday and Tuesday, 90 minutes each. I showed up on the second day and could qualify for the semifinals with other seven musicians. Then, I advanced to the finals and finally got chosen by the judges”.

What symphony did you play? Share more details

“Auditions at the Metropolitan are one of the fairest I’ve ever heard since the jury uses a method to avoid preferences. Every contestant plays the instrument behind a curtain, so the judges cannot see the face of any musician. Becoming acquainted with any of the members of the jury is forbidden, and telephones are banned also. It usually generated a tense atmosphere, but I think those measures are correct. I practiced a lot before my performance. At the audition, I played Tosca, Don Carlos, and other three symphonies. They are 15 judges, 15 votes; I got 12 out of 15 votes in the first round, and 13 out of 15 to advance to the finals”

Hugo Valverde added that he has received a lot of messages of support from his Costa Rican compatriots. “I will keep up the good job to lift the name of the country high in the United States” – he concluded.