Angela Meade named Centralia College Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient
Angela Meade, a native of Centralia and a 1998 Centralia College graduate, is a rising star in the world of opera. She has won the Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers and the Richard Tucker Award, given to an American singer poised on the edge of a major national and international career. Already to her growing list of credits is her impressive debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera and critical acclaim for a range of subsequent roles.
And now she adds the Centralia College Distinguished Alumnus Award to her growing list of accolades. She will be honored during June 15 commencement day ceremonies, which includes a luncheon in her honor. She will be one of the speakers at commencement. Meade, at 34-years of age, is the youngest person to receive the college’s recognition.
“I can’t tell you how delighted and honored I am to receive the award. It was totally unexpected,” Meade said. She joins 34 other former Centralia College students who have excelled in their careers and are Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients.
Meade credits Centralia College as the springboard for directing her into opera.
“It’s where I found my singing voice,” Meade said. She came to Centralia College at her parents’ urging, thinking she’d go into the medical field, perhaps settling for a career as a doctor or medical researcher. Because she enjoyed music and singing in the church choir, some thought she might have a future as a singer. Her parents suggested country. To explore her interest she took an elective class from Dr. Donna Huffman, the college’s music professor.
“It was there I found my passion. Because of that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. The flame was ignited at Centralia College,” she said. Huffman recognized Meade’s talent and recommended a vocal coach who had her work on arias. Her passion for music narrowed; her strong soprano voice was a natural for opera.
From Centralia College, Meade went on to Pacific Lutheran University to develop her burgeoning singing talent. After earning her master’s at the University of Southern California, Meade was accepted into the Academy of Arts in Philadelphia, the dream of a lifetime. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2007, and was the first singer ever to take first prize in the opera and operetta categories of Vienna’s prestigious Belvedere Competition as well as the International Press Prize and the La Scala Prize, extraordinary honors for opera singers. Meade also garnered the largest cash prize in the world of opera, the $50,000 first prize of the Jose Iturbi Competition. To date, she has won more than 50 competitions.
Her big break came in 2008 when she was a last minute substitute in Verdi’s “Ernani” at the New York Met. She more than got noticed: Her performance was magical and opened the door to a series of bookings across America. It positioned her as a musical force.
“I really love what I’m doing. I enjoy the singing, being around music, seeing the world, learning languages, and working with such wonderful people,” Meade said. She did note that there are times when her chosen career can be difficult. “But there is nothing more important to me than what I’m doing. I want to do this forever.”
That kind of passion keeps her at the top of a crowded field.
“There are always people who aspire to be successful in opera,” Meade said. “It takes a lot of work. You have to be completely passionate and willing to make sacrifices to be successful.” And be blessed with considerable talent.
Meade does offer some advice. “You need to follow your dreams. Explore the fields you enjoy and find your passion,” Meade said. “If you’re not being fulfilled then look around and find something that excites you. It’s important to be doing what you are passionate about.”
This summer, opera fans and Meade followers will be able to hear that passion as she performs at the Astoria (Oregon) Music Festival, which begins June 16. She will appear in the title role of a concert version of Vincento Bellini’s opera “Norma.”