Martin Meader has done a lot in his life but singing and conducting choirs has been his mainstay, helping him through good times and bad.
In 1997, Martin co-wrote and co-executive produced the film Paradise Road starring Glenn Close and Cate Blanchett about a choir of women prisoners of war, capping an illustrious career which has taken him around the world.
In 2007, he returned to Perth after living in the US and was approached by ABC 720 Radio to form a choir under the name Born to Sing comprising 120 non-singers singing Christmas carols in Forrest Place.
“Once that six-week program was successfully completed, I decided to continue the choir with some friends,” Martin said.
“The Born to Sing choirs now meet weekly and I conduct choirs in Joondalup, Melville and Rockingham with Luke Savage conducting one in Midland.”
Martin also conducts the Secret Women’s Business choir which have recently had sell-out appearances around Perth.
Life is busy for Martin but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Singing in a choir helps improve physical and mental health, he says. It helps reduce stress and creates social bonds.
“Singing in a choir also enhances our sense of happiness and wellbeing. Exposure to music encourages the power of concentration, co-ordination and self-discipline, enhancing creativity and creating a positive attitude generally.
“Men and women mainly aged over 40 and up to 90 enjoy choir singing. Choirs are definitely a place for baby boomers to come to; they love the songs of the 60s and 70s.”
Martin has been instrumental in establishing singing workshops throughout Australia, Singapore, Britain, Indonesia, Canada and the US. From 2014–15 he was the musical director for the choir of the Western Desert Kidney Health Project, an initiative that aimed to reduce disease and diabetes by 20 per cent over three years in 10 Goldfields Aboriginal communities.
He was commissioned by the Perth International Arts Festival to conduct choirs which included a 1000-voice choir for the 2004 festival opening ceremony and another 1000-voice choir in 2005 to sing Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra.
In 2006, he travelled back to the US to create the Hurricane Choir as a response and help for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. His choirs have raised more than $240,000 for worthy causes.
In 2016, Martin was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal cancer and in the following two years underwent major operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy,
“During that time, I made myself attend choir four times a week because I knew that if I had a purpose, especially a musical purpose, I would have a better chance of surviving.
“The support and love that I received from choir members cannot be understated. It was massive and, for me, undoubtedly was a vital part of me getting through the treatment. I’m not free of cancer yet and have to attend hospital to keep a check on my continual improvement.”
Martin’s choirs have performed at the Perth Fringe Festival, Concert Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre, Regal Theatre, Subiaco Arts Centre, Denmark Festival of Voice, Dunsborough Songfest, Guildford Songfest and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“Singing provides catharsis across the full emotional spectrum,” he said. “It can give a directly experienced sense of happiness. It’s a mood lifter and anti-depressant with no side effects.”
Martin’s personal goal is to take singing together into the workplace. Anecdotal feedback from his workshops is that staff return to their workstations happy and full of joy.
That is as good a recommendation as any.