Getting to Know Fred Meads
September 27, 2023
We invite you to take a moment to get to know LACC’s new Associate Artistic Director, Fred Meads, better. Fred relocated from Princeton, New Jersey (where he led the Princeton Girlchoir and Princeton Boys Choir) to join our team. This season, Fred conducts the Preparatory Choir and Intermediate Choirs and is also helming LACC’s music literacy program.
How long have you been teaching choirs?
For a long time! I originally wanted to be a high school band conductor. I played [French] horn in high school and was in marching band. When I was studying at Ithaca College for my undergraduate degree, I was inspired by singing and choirs and that became more of my focus. I had several influential teachers during that time, but Janet Galvan, especially, helped guide me to a place where I knew I wanted to work with singers. My first job out of college was teaching middle school music, then a children’s choir position became available in the community. I didn’t get the job, but it did make me realize I wanted to pursue conducting more seriously.
I went to grad school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, specifically to study choral conducting and got a children’s choir position in the community while in school. I’ve been conducting children’s choirs ever since!
What were you doing before you joined LACC?
Beyond the above, I worked as Artistic Director for the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir in Indiana. After that, I spent several years working with Fernando [Malvar-Ruiz, LACC’s Artistic Director] at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, NJ. I was Associate Conductor for the Princeton Girlchoir (affiliated with the town, not the university) and became the first conductor of Princeton Boychoir. These choirs combined were similar to LACC, with more than 300 total singers.
Did you know Fernando prior to your time at American Boychoir School?
I’ve known Fernando for many years. I was actually performing in an opera with a mutual friend when I first met him. I believe he said I was the second person he met in the United States. Then I was able to interact with him over the intervening years via American Boychoir and I studied with him for a summer in the Kodály program at Capital University.
What led you to accept the position with LACC?
I’ve followed LACC ever since [Artistic Director Emerita] Anne Tomlinson began directing, so I’ve always known about the choir program and had great respect for what LACC has accomplished. One season, LACC toured through Princeton, NJ, and performed with us at American Boychoir School. The choir sounded amazing; I can still remember the repertoire they sang in their performance. When the opportunity came to join the staff here, I decided it was time to make a move. It wasn’t an easy decision. I’m an East Coast guy and I loved my jobs there but the appeal to work with a choir at this level was a big draw.
I always wondered what it would be like to live on the West Coast, so that also piqued my interest. And so far, LA has been great. I love waking up to the sun and heading out for a morning walk.
What are some of your approaches to choral education?
I like to create a space where the singers are comfortable and relaxed so they can enjoy the choral experience. Then I can provide the instruction needed to encourage their love for singing, improve their musical skills and build their voices with confidence. I try to bring kindness and empathy to rehearsals so they know I care about them as young musicians.
What do you like about teaching young singers?
Their energy! I love working with children, so their energy helps energize me. When you’re working with a community choir like LACC, you have singers who love to sing and want to be there. They are eager and willing to learn which inspires me to teach them.
I’m also excited about the musicianship program here. I don’t know many other children’s choirs in the country that have programs so extensive. It’s really important that children have the opportunity to learn about music theory and music skills outside of the normal choir rehearsal. LACC has been making this happen for many years.
What are some new educational approaches you hope to bring to LACC?
LACC already has this incredible reputation, so I just hope to continue the tradition of fine singing that has worked so well here. After my first year, I’ll have a better idea of how everything runs and I’ll see what I can add to the program.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Everyone at LACC has been so welcoming! They have made the transition much easier than I expected. It’s wonderful to be in LA and I’m looking forward to leading the talented singers in LACC!