Elda McGinty Peralta still remembers walking into the sanctuary at her friend’s church at the age of 9 and hearing the worship band practicing.

“I was just overcome,” she said. “I felt God’s presence, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Peralta’s family moved to San Diego when she was in high school. She graduated from PLNU in 2006 with her B.A. in music with a concentration in music education, but she didn’t expect to end up back at her alma mater teaching at the college level.

“I’m originally from Tijuana, and I was still attending church there,” she said. “My thought was to go back and teach and be a worship leader.”

Peralta has, in fact, served as a worship leader throughout her career and in multiple locations. However, she has also spent a lot of time teaching and is currently a part-time voice professor in PLNU’s Department of Music.

When she came to Point Loma as an undergraduate, Peralta didn’t have much experience singing classical music — in fact, she had previously avoided attending a conservatory in Mexico because she wasn’t interested in classical training. However, God had other plans.

“I had not had much exposure to that genre,” she said. “It was very hard my first semester, but God granted me favor, and I was encouraged by my voice teacher to do a competition in my second semester as a freshman. I did really well, and it was a snowball effect from there.”

“I had the privilege of helping translate repertoire that had not been heard in public for 300 years… As a Mexican singer, it is a great honor for me to be part of bringing to light this cultural treasure that had been forgotten.”

Starting her senior year, Peralta was in the San Diego Opera Chorus for three seasons. After graduating, Peralta served as a middle school choir director before she felt God calling her to apply to graduate school. She received a full scholarship to Northwestern University for her master’s in vocal performance. While she was in graduate school, she married fellow alum Joel McGinty (05).

One of the highlights of Peralta’s career came while she was in grad school and had the opportunity to perform recently rediscovered galant music from the time of the New Spain.

“During my graduate years, [I worked] as an assistant to Dr. Drew Edward Davies, a musicologist specializing in 17th- and 18th-century music in Latin America,” she said. “I had the privilege of helping translate repertoire that had not been heard in public for 300 years. Today, with the help of Dr. Davies and the Chicago Arts Orchestra, among others, we have been able to revive this repertoire in various cities throughout the United States, and in the cathedrals where the music was originally composed, like the Durango Cathedral and, most recently, Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral in November of 2017. As a Mexican singer, it is a great honor for me to be part of bringing to light this cultural treasure that had been forgotten.”

After earning her master’s, Peralta stayed in Chicago. Joel worked in film, and she sang for the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Lyric Opera House as well as freelancing for other orchestras. She also served as the assistant to the director of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s national arts ministry, taught voice and piano lessons, and worked at a gym. Eventually, Peralta accepted a full-time job at a Presbyterian church in Evanston as a worship director. She continued singing with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and coaching singers as well.

In 2018, the couple felt God calling them back to San Diego. Peralta returned to PLNU as an adjunct professor and became a part-time faculty member in August 2022. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Chula Vista Christian University, teaches privately, and leads worship at her church. For the past couple of years, she has been a soloist and the vocal director for a show called Night of Christmas produced by Awaken Church at San Diego’s Rady Shell.

Even as she maintains additional roles, being back at Point Loma brings Peralta full circle.

“I have loved my job here,” she said. “I am honored to teach alongside faculty who taught me when I was a student here.”

As a voice teacher, Peralta says the most difficult part of her work “is motivating students to try something new they’ve never done before.” She frequently prays with her students during lessons as a way to encourage them and to ask the Holy Spirit to help them overcome their weaknesses or fears. This most challenging part of her job is what leads to the most rewarding part.

“We have such a diversity of students,” she said. “They come from all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of interests — commercial music, worship, classical. My favorite part is when I watch a student realize they can do something they thought they couldn’t do. When they discover, ‘there is freedom in my voice,’ there is a spiritual parallel.’ When we believe what God says about us, His power is made perfect in our weakness.” 

Family photo of Peralta with her husband and their two kids.
Peralta with her husband, Joel, and their two kids, Ezra and Katya.

For Peralta, having singing as her profession is a tremendous blessing. When she isn’t working, Peralta enjoys spending time with her family. Her parents, siblings, and in-laws all live near her. Joel and Elda also have two children: Ezra, age 7, and Katya, age 4.

Christine is the editor of the Viewpoint magazine at PLNU.