Tom Meier has been the front-line director and de facto music educator for the Fairfax Jubil-Aires since 2003. His warm heart, fun sense of humor, and extraordinary music knowledge and skill make Tom a treasure. Each week, he has focused on new skills or reteaching old techniques in a new way to make rehearsals musical, productive, and lots of fun. Coming back to the Jubil-Aires in 2002, after a stint singing and directing in New York and Connecticut, Tom has helped the chorus achieve new heights in performance in recent years. In 2004, the Jubil-Aires returned to the District level of competition under Tom's direction. Tom sings baritone with his quartet, The Virginia Gentlemen. He also performs classical music with the Friday Morning Music Club Chorale in Washington, D.C., where he has recently appeared as tenor soloist and is director of the Chorale's a cappella ensemble, the Collegium Musicum.
It is no surprise that the Jubil-Aires elected to keep Tom on as the paid Associate Director, when Richard Lewellen was hired as the Music Director in August of 2010. Take two great people with lots of talent, combine their efforts, and the result is exponential. Tom and Richard have already forged a great relationship, and the Jubil-Aires are excited about this "dynamic duo!"
In some families, music is as natural a part of life as breathing. And so it was for Tom Meier, the oldest of four children, born into an Air Force family that moved around a bit as he was growing up. With 3 younger sisters, Tom started his path toward barbershop as an “Adeline.” His sisters might have been sweet (actually, as Tom puts it, “They might have been sweet – a brother doesn’t remember things that way, but I only teased them enough to keep them in line!”), but he was all boy (well, boy soprano anyway, until the voice changed). Like many of us, Tom learned a lot of music singing in church choirs, and in junior high he had his first taste of real barbershop. Little did he know then about what an important part of his life this style of music would become.
When college loomed on the horizon, Tom’s math team sponsor recommended the math program at Haverford, a Quaker school near Philadelphia. His major soon changed to music, however, and he earned his degree in music. Like many aspiring musicians who graduate with this degree, however, Tom was soon faced with the reality of the need to make some serious money. His math background was valuable and helped him land a job with the Mitre Corporation, working with computers and the infancy of the internet. As Tom puts it, “Al Gore did not invent the internet; he paid us to do that.” In the early days, there was concern that this email thing would not be used enough, so people on the east coast would get west coast email addresses, and vice versa. That way they could assure that there would be at least some traffic going back and forth across the United States. After a number of years working in the command and control area, Tom was off to the Rome Labs in Rome, NY to work on intelligence issues. They were working on message handling and networking, and he worked on the development of some protocols that we take for granted today – TCP/IP.
After 26 years with Mitre, Tom went out on his own, designing web sites and doing other computer work, but he was eventually drawn back into working with startup computer companies looking for ways to land those prized government contracts, and this is where he still works today, when he is not singing.
Finding times when Tom is not singing is actually difficult. Tom was always active in madrigals and other choirs, but he rediscovered barbershop when he joined the Jubil-Aires in 1993. It was in Virginia that he met his wife, Kathy, when they were introduced to one another by … who else? Her voice teacher. And they have been making sweet music together ever since.
Tom and Kathy were married in 1997 and moved to Connecticut. Kathy had one son, Chris, from a previous marriage, and Tom brought 3 children to the union: Chris (yes, that made two boys named Chris), Seth, and Kevin. In Connecticut, Tom joined the Bridgeport Chorus, but his talent was soon recognized, and he was invited down to sing with the Big Apple Chorus in NYC. He was with them when they went on tour in Russia in 2001. Tom was not the only one who rode the train down from Connecticut each week to sing with the chorus, so it should be no surprise that he formed a quartet, known as The Train Gang, which rehearsed on the rides to and from rehearsals.
In 2002, Tom came back to Virginia, becoming more involved in working with government contracting, and once again he became a Jubil-Aire. Today, he and Kathy are still making music together in madrigals, church choir, and as members of the Friday Morning Music Club (fmmc.org). If he isn’t directing the Jubil-Aires, he is helping to launch another chapter, and he still sings on a regular basis with The Virginia Gentlemen. No, this is not the UVA chorus, nor is it Rick Taylor’s old quartet, or the Virginia Gentlemen of Roanoke. This is our very own Phil Merkel, Dave Whitney, and Dick Smull (best man at Tom’s wedding), and Tom Meier.
Perhaps the only thing (other than Kathy) that competes with music in Tom’s life now is the pleasure of grandchildren. Kathy’s Chris has two children, and they live in Mexico. Tom’s Chris was a lawyer in Boston, who left to join a firm in North Conway, NH, where it is not unusual for the office to head for the ski slopes in the middle of a work day. (Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?) He and his wife have a daughter and a son. Seth was married in August (to a lady named, you guessed it: Chris) and lives in Los Angeles, where he is an actor and producer. And Kevin, the youngest, will be getting married soon on Martha’s Vineyard. “I now understand why Jere Richardson was always talking about his grandchildren,” says Tom. “They are the best songs imaginable that live and grow in our souls.”
So the songs never stop, and for Tom, that is life as it should be!