JAMES MEREDITH, pianist, composer, voice/piano teacher, coach, conductor
One of the San Francisco Bay Area's most well rounded musicians, James Meredith conducts the country's acclaimed Sonos Handbell Ensemble. This group's nationally recognized CDs have been played by classical music stations throughout the US. The San Francisco Examiner called it "sensational." A recording for a video shown in Bose Corporation stores around the world, demonstrating surround sound speaker systems, included artists such as Yo Yo Ma and the Cinncinati Pops. A native of North Carolina, Mr. Meredith received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University. He is a musical partner with mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. As a solo pianist, vocal and instrumental accompanist and conductor in America, Europe and Asia, his work has brought him into contact with such artists as Elly Ameling, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Eleanor Steber, Gerald Moore for whom he has played masterclasses. For four summers he was pianist Dalton Baldwin's assistant in art song in masterclasses at the French Conservatory in Nice. Concerts with Ms. Von Stade included two appearances on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion," each reaching a National Public Radio audience of over two million listeners and two concerts with Sonos in a premiere of Libby Larsen’s “Hell’s Belles.” He has been conductor of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, was on the faculty of Merritt College, taught masterclasses at Holy Names College, was Festival Opera chorus master, taught Art Song masterclasses at San Jose State University and has been on the voice/piano faculty of the award-winning Young Musicians Choral Orchestra for 17 years where his students have won many competitions and been accepted at major US universities and conservatories.
As a professional musician in the classical musical community, Mr. Meredith brings a high standard to his work with handbells. Sonos Handbell Ensemble has done much to bring the art of handbell ringing into the musical mainstream by appearing with symphony orchestras, performing on major concert series and collaborating with other well-established performing ensembles including the San Francisco Symphony and the Kronos quartet.
Mr. Meredith's involvement in handbells began in 1983 at Grace Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek, California where he directed three choirs. One of these, Concert Bronze, comprised of teenagers from the Taiwanese/American branch of the church, won first place at the First Annual Northern California Handbell Competition in 1986 and performed 23 concerts in an 11-day tour of Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines in 1989. Since 1983 Mr. Meredith has been a clinician and conductor at workshops and festivals and has been on the faculty at Handbell Exploration, Pinnacle (Las Vegas) and multiple Handbell Musicians of America seminars, Springfield, Spokane, Norfolk and Nashville, where Sonos had been invited to play featured concerts. He has taught graduate level conducting at Concordia University in Wisconsin. Mr. Meredith is the author of many arrangements and transcriptions. His first major work, Kodo Tryptich, for handbells, handchimes and percussion was premiered at the 1997 AGEHR Directors' Seminar to great critical acclaim and has been performed five times since its premiere. Natura, for bells/chimes/percussion and girls chorus was commissioned by the San Francisco Girls Chorus and premiered by Sonos with the chorus in San Francisco in the spring of 2003. His audience-interactive performance work, Lullay, for mixed chorus, clarinet and handbells, was premiered by the Silicon Valley Chorale in 2011. He is CEO of Meredith Music Press which publishes advanced music for handbells sold nationwide and internationally.