By Robert D. Thomas
Southern California News Group
Fernando Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, who for the past 13 years has served as music director of the American Boychoir in Princeton, NJ, has been named artistic director of the Pasadena-based Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, effective Aug. 1, 2018. He will replace Anne Tomlinson, who is retiring in 2018 after 22 years heading up the LACC.
Both organizations are among the premiere children’s choir organization in the United States and, indeed, around the world. Malvar-Ruiz becomes just the third artistic director/music director in LACC’s 32-year-history. Tomlinson succeeded Founding Co-Director Rebecca Thompson; thus, Malvar-Ruiz becomes the first male to lead the organization.
Malvar-Ruiz’s 13-year tenure with the ABC 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.
Under Malvar-Ruiz the ABC also 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 his 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, 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.”
LACC choristers are currently singing in LA Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen, a performance that L.A. Times Music Critic Mark Swed opined that “they stole the show in the crowd scenes at the beginning and end of the opera.” The Chorus also appears with the Los Angeles Master Chorale to open the LAMC season on Sept. 23 and 24.
The chorus opens its 2017-2018 concert season on Dec. 3 at Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Sounds About Town” series. Information: www.laphil.com
(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.