2019 Incoming Grad Series: Valdis Jansons

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Friday, September 20, 2019 8:00 AM

The 2019 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts on 8 students who are part of our most diverse incoming class in recent memory.

​Valdis Jansons has traveled all over the world for his career prior to coming to UCSB! He has bachelor's and master's degrees in classical singing from Conservatorio Arrigo Boito in Parma, Italy, and has been a professional opera singer ​since 2004. ​Valdis is coming to UCSB to pursue a Ph.D. in ​Music, with a focus on performance, psychological preparation, and learning processes.

Read on to learn more about ​​Valdis's research interests and some fun facts, including being able to ask for coffee in ten languages!​


Valdis was born in Latvia, but technically, at the time of his birth, Latvia was considered a part of the USSR​. Because of this, he described his childhood as "surreal." Growing up, he played guitar in a heavy metal band, which somehow led him to want to study classical music in college. After college, he continued his studies in Italy, because opera was born in Italy and (still!) most of the operas are performed in Italian. Since 2004, Valdis has been a professional opera singer, ​which allowed him to travel a lot, see many countries, and sing in 10 languages!


Valdis told us that among all the cities and towns he has been to, he doesn't think there is a better location to study than Santa Barbara. When he visited UCSB, he could see and feel the will to grow and expand on the campus. He reported being drawn to this "positive and ambitious" process.


Valdis said, "Opera singing is a very delicate art - we cannot see how we produce the sound, but we can feel it." As a consequence, he claims it is vital to have the right psychological attitude and to develop physical sensibility and awareness. Because of this, he would like to research the links between psychological preparation, performance, and learning processes.



Valdis admits that it does not sound very original for a musician, but he enjoys playing guitar. He also has practiced aikido for several years, but had to abandon it because he was always traveling. He is very excited about picking it back up again in Santa Barbara. Besides this, he enjoys board games and languages (he speaks Latvian, Russian, Italian, and English fluently).

He is able to say "I would like to have a cup of a black coffee" in the languages of all the countries he has been to. "It is crucial!" he says. He also reports never listening to music if not for professional purposes. He told us, "Once music becomes your job, silence becomes your intimate friend."

Welcome, ​Valdis!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series. Up next is Aisha Anwar, an incoming ​student in ​​English coming to UCSB from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.