Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Names Fernando Malvar-Ruiz New Artistic Director | BH Courier

Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Names Fernando Malvar-Ruiz New Artistic Director

Fernando Malvar-Ruiz
Fernando Malvar-Ruiz

Posted: Monday, October 2, 2017 – 4:22 PM

Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, internationally regarded choral conductor, clinician and educator, has been named the next artistic director of Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (LACC), noted for its bel canto sound. LACC Chair Cheryl Scheidemantle announced that Malvar-Ruis will assume the post on Aug. 1, 2018.

From 2004 to July 2017, Malvar-Ruiz served as music director of American Boychoir, serving boys in grades four through eight, whose Concert Choir toured to critical acclaim.  His 13-year tenure was highlighted by some 200 performances and up to five national and international tours annually and appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Olaf Choir, Westminster Choir and New York Choral Artists, among many others.

He has worked on the world’s leading stages with such conductors as Marin Alsop, Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, James Levine, Kurt Masur, Mstislav Rostropovich, Michael Tilson Thomas and Valery Gergiev and artists ranging from cellist Yo-Yo Ma, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and pop singer Beyoncé Knowles, Sir Paul McCartney and Josh Groban to opera singers Kathleeen Battle and Jessye Norman.

Under Malvar-Ruiz, the Princeton, N.J.-based American Boychoir  appeared on the 77th annual Academy Awards and performed for the 9/11 Memorial Service broadcast live globally on CNN in 2006.  He also conducted the choir on six recordings and served as the music director on the 2014 film Boychoir, inspired by the choir, directed by François Girard and starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathie Bates and Deborah Winger, as well as the American Boychoir. 

Malvar-Ruiz becomes the third person to lead LACC since its inception in 1986.  He succeedsArtistic Director Anne Tomlinson, who steps down at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season following a 22-year tenure with the chorus.

The recipient of Chorus America’s 2014 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, LACC, under Tomlinson, enjoyed strategic expansion with the Chorus currently serving more than 400 children ages 6 to 18 from 50 communities across L.A. in six choirs – Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Young Men’s Ensemble, Intermediate Choir, Apprentice Choir and Preparatory Choir – and First Experiences in Singing classes and a First Experiences in Choral Singing Ensemble for 6-8-year-olds.  

Malvar-Ruiz’s appointment comes as the chorus, currently in its 32nd season, develops new performance and commissioning opportunities, further expands its artistic partnerships locally and abroad, and enhances its training program to serve an increased number of choristers. 

“Fernando brings to LACC innovative and visionary artistic leadership,” said Scheidemantle. “Throughout his distinguished career, he has demonstrated exceptional talent, skill and expertise working with young singers across a wide range of platforms, including live performance, recording, movies, TV shows and advertising, and collaborating with leading artists at the highest possible echelon.  One of the country’s most prominent, thoughtful and enthusiastic music educators, he also has incredible experience training young singers and developing in-depth educational programs for those new to singing as well as those with more skill. His energy and vitality are valuable assets to LACC that will help further invigorate the organization and ensure its continued excellence and growth in the years to come. We very much look forward to having Fernando at LACC’s artistic helm.”  

“I have great admiration for LACC and for the uncompromising education the institution provides its choristers,” said Malvar-Ruiz. “It is a shining beacon for anyone who works with young people. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work with the fantastic people on LACC’s board of directors, the organization’s outstanding artistic and administrative staff, its chorus members, their families and the community.  With their help, I aim to build upon the Chorus’ strong foundation set by my predecessor, Anne Tomlinson, and guide this amazing institution into new artistic heights.  Choral music transcends borders and language, and I am passionate about being part of an organization that gives young people the tools to communicate on a global level through music.”

Malvar-Ruiz, who has worked with children’s and youth choirs almost his entire professional career, notes his passion for working with this segment of the population is directly linked to three core beliefs.  “Music is an essential component of humanity,” he explains.  “Our sense of being, what makes us human, needs music to exist and thrive in the same way that our bodies need food, water and air.  Secondly, group singing, or choral music, is the most universal musical form of artistic expression; every known culture in the world, present or past, has some kind of collective singing.  And finally, while music is a worthy end in itself—it does not need any justification to exist—it can also be a most powerful means to educate, empower, uplift, build character and generally enrich the lives of those who participate in it.”

2017-18 Season Highlights

• In its second LA Opera appearance this season, LACC performs in the West Coast premiere of The Hubble Cantata, a live experience that pushes the boundaries of art and science, on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at John Anson Ford Theatre. With images from the Hubble Space telescope, the space-inspired cantata about an astrophysicist searching for his wife in the stars, culminates in a five-minute virtual reality film that launches the audience into an immersive voyage through the Universe. Starring Nathan Gunn and Jessica Rivera, the work features music by composer Paola Prestini, libretto by Royce Vavrek and Eliza McNitt’s virtual reality film, Fistful of Stars. Through his narration, New York Times best-selling author and eminent astrophysicist Dr. Mario Livio places the characters’ story within the grand scheme of the cosmos.

• The season continues with LACC presenting a two-day masterclass with choral conductor Maria Guinand, artistic director of Venezuela’s Schola Contorum and  interpreter and champion of Latin American choral music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 25 and 26 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. For more than three decades, she has served as associate conductor and advisor of Choral Symphonic Performances and Activities for El Sistema, the music-training program in Venezuela. This marks Guinand’s third appearance with LACC following a workshop she conducted for the chorus in 2015 and the LACC-presented ¡Celebracion! The Guinand Festival, a national, multi-choir festival, educational forum and community concert in 2010.

•  In December, LACC is spotlighted in three holiday events, including L.A. Phil’s “Sounds About Town’ series, in a program led by Tomlinson, entitled “Our Heart’s Joy,” which features carols and musical selections interspersed with secular readings drawn from such universal themes as creation, hope and change, Sunday, Dec.3 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. LACC has twice previously been spotlighted on the “Sounds About Town” series.

• LACC will provide live vocals for the Miami City Ballet’s world premiere of a new version of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, a Music Center co-commission featuring new sets and costumes by Cuban-American artists/designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo and Balanchine’s iconic choreography, Dec. 7-10 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This marks the first time LACC has collaborated with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, which presents the new version of the fairytale ballet set to Tchaikovsky’s score.

• LACC also makes its 10th consecutive guest appearance in matinee and evening performances of the Pasadena Symphony and POPS’ popular “Holiday Candlelight Concert,” led by conductor Grant Cooper, Saturday, Dec. 16 at Pasadena’s All Saints Church. Ushering in the holidays by candlelight, the program includes holiday melodies and also features the Donald Brinegar Singers and the L.A. Bronze Handbell Ensemble.

• LACC appears with the LA Phil, led by Gustavo Dudamel, for four performances of Bernstein’s Mass directed by Elkhanah Pulitzer with a cast that includes singers, dancers, rock and marching bands, orchestra and chorus, Feb. 1-4, 2018, at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

• A month later, 150 LACC choristers are featured in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s U.S. premiere of Andrew Norman’s a opera A Trip to the Moon, co-commissioned by the orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Teddy Abrams, March 2 and 3, 2018, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Directed by Yuval Sharon, the opera was inspired by Georges Méliès’ 1902 silent film version of the same name, which was based on Jules Verne’s novels From Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon.

• LACC presents its annual Spring Concert with a mix contemporary and traditional music , including many of Tomlinson’s favorites, May 12 and 13, 2018, at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

• LACC hosts a masterclass with Dr. Sharon Paul, director of choral studies at Oregon State University, for the American Choral Directors Association, March 17, 2018, in Pasadena. 

For information on LACC, its auditions or programs, call 626-793-4231 or visit www.lachildrenschorus.org.