by Parth Upadhyaya
When Lucas Meachem arrives in Chapel Hill in a couple of days as the Artist in Residence for the UNC Department of Music, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the Grammy Award-winning opera baritone.
With the department from Feb. 24 to March 1, Meachem will coach students privately and publicly in masterclasses. The week will start with a recital in Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall on Sunday, Feb. 24, where he and his wife — Irina, a pianist — will perform in a recital with Carolina Performing Arts (Tickets: $27). Then, Meachem will host three free masterclasses: on Feb. 25 from 3:35 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. in Person Recital Hall, on Feb. 27 from 3:35 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. in Moeser Auditorium, and on March 1 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Person Recital Hall.
Meachem was born in Raleigh and lived in North Carolina until he finished his undergraduate degree at Appalachian State University. Since then, he’s won a Grammy for the role of Figaro in “The Ghosts of Versailles” with the L.A. Opera. He’s been a regular performer at opera houses in the United States and Europe.
But the invitation to work with music students at UNC was an opportunity different from any he’d received before.
“It’s a really unique experience for me,” Meachum said. “And I’m so happy they’ve given me the opportunity to do so and come and sort of spread the knowledge to a generation of not just performers or opera singers, but young North Carolinians as a whole.”
Meachem says he hopes to bring a “worldly-knowledge” to help show UNC students how opera is performed differently in various places. Even though this will mark his first residency, he has impacted young singers in other ways.
Posts on his personal blog, The Baritone Blog, give tips and takeaways from his own experiences for student opera singers. Meachem also occasionally offers “voice lesson giveaways” through his Instagram stories and interacts with up-and-coming musicians to answer questions and provide advice.
“I always say to people, ‘When you think you’ve perfected something, that’s the last time you do it at the highest level,” Meachem said. “I never think I’m perfect at singing. I’ve never given a perfect performance. I strive to every time I go on stage, but I’ve never done it.”
Meachem’s performance on Feb. 24 will take audience members through his musical journey as a young baritone to where he is now in his career. There’s something special about returning to teach and perform in his home state, and this residency at UNC is yet another reminder of how far he’s come.
“With a residency, you’re both excited to work with the students and to sort of pass on knowledge,” Meachem said. “But it’s also a personal fulfillment of feeling like you’re at the point where you’ve acquired enough knowledge and expertise to feel that a university could gain from having you as a part of their establishment.”
Click here to purchase tickets for Meachem’s recital on February 24, 2019.
Lucas Meachem performed recently at the 64th Annual Viennese Opera Ball in NYC.