Fernando Meza is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota, where he has been Director of Percussion Studies since 1993. Over this time period, he has built and established in Minneapolis what is considered by many to be one of the most comprehensive centers of percussion studies in the United States. Professor Meza began musical studies in his home country of Costa Rica under the tutelage of Stuart Marrs in 1972 as part of the Costa Rica National Symphony's Youth Orchestra Program, currently the National Institute of Music of Costa Rica. In 1981 he became the youngest recipient of the Latin Scholars Program Scholarship sponsored by the Organization of American States to participate in a year of intensive studies and performing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and later traveled to Texas and Michigan to continue his musical studies. Meza holds a Master's degree from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor's degree from Baylor University and has studied with John Soroka, Larry Vanlandingham, and Michael Udow, besides Marrs. He was in charge of the percussion department at The Ohio State University in Columbus prior to his arrival in the Twin Cities and has also served on the faculties of the National Institute of Music and the University of Costa Rica.
Fernando has performed in Japan, Latin America, and the U.S. with internationally renowned marimba artist Keiko Abe with whom he recorded for her "Conversation in the Forest" for the acclaimed CD "Marimba Spiritual - Keiko Abe and the World's Leading Percussionists" along with percussionists Michael Udow and Gregg Koyle. Meza has also performed as soloist, chamber, or orchestral musician in such places as Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Philharmonie in Berlin, and the Musikverein in Vienna among others, and is in demand in the Twin Cities as a performer with the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, Bakken Trio, Dale Warland Singers, the contemporary group "Dancing in your Head," and others.
In 1989 Meza accepted the position of Principal Percussionist/Assistant Timpanist of the Costa Rica National Symphony Orchestra and spearheaded the creation of the percussion program at the University of Costa Rica, where he worked until 1991. During this time, he traveled extensively throughout Latin America, the U.S. and Europe as a performer and clinician and finished work for his "Percussion Discography: An International Compilation of Solo and Chamber Percussion Music" published by Greenwood Press in 1990.
Fernando has many musical interests that include among them the study of orchestral, and contemporary solo and chamber music, marimba, North Indian tabla drums, the folkloric marimba traditions of Costa Rica, Latin American contemporary and traditional music, and music technology as applied to learning. On the educational side, he is fundamentally committed to the development of complete musicianship with his students and to this end has created a program of studies which encompasses experiences of both global and local elements within the percussion world, aimed at helping his students become intellectually mature and professionally successful in their own right.
Meza was one of the original percussionists during the world premiere of the Broadway production of Disney's The Lion King, and his work can be heard on the original-cast and Grammy-award winning recording of this extraordinary musical production on the SONY label.
An avid chamber musician, Meza is part of the ensembles Grupo Clave, a percussion quintet dedicated to pursuing original music emanating from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the 2-piano/2-percussion group Percussiano. Since 1998, he has also been involved with the Jovan Perkussion Projekt, an international quartet comprised of musicians originating from four different countries (Germany, Serbia, Costa Rica, and the U.S.A).