Jan. 23, 1968 – Jan. 9, 2023
Sarah Elizabeth Meredith, a music teacher and accompanist who also was a successful grant writer, died Jan. 9 in her home in Buffalo after a long battle with cancer. She was 54.
Born in Urbana, Ill., she came with her family to Amherst in 1973 and displayed her talents as a girl, taking part in numerous choral groups and serving as an accompanist.
At Amherst Central High School, where she graduated in 1986, she was a member of the National Honor Society and was president and student director of Sweet Sixteens, a select girls’ singing group.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Baylor University, then received a master’s degree from Ithaca College and a doctorate in musicology from Florida State University in 2003.
Dr. Meredith taught music and served as music coordinator in the Amherst schools, was a professor at SUNY Buffalo State University for several years, then became a grants researcher for J. O’Connell and Associates.
She went on to become a grant writer for municipalities and educational institutions. In the Village of Lancaster, where she was grants manager, she helped bring more than $7 million to the community.
She also devoted herself to working with soloists and choirs.
“As an accompanist, she was a musician’s musician,” wrote Sue Fay Allen, founder of ABC Bel Canto Choir, where Dr. Meredith was an accompanist. “She worked as a partner with those of us who conducted and performed. A really fine accompanist helps to enable the soloist or the conductor of a group to achieve the phrasing, the nuances and the tempo changes that transform the many notes into a musical message for the performers and the audience. It was a gift to have Sarah as that partner.”
At Lancaster High School, she played for musicals, rehearsals, choirs and ensembles and worked with soloists. She accompanied New York State School Music Association solo performances and for many years was chosen to play for the choruses at the annual Erie County Musical Educators Association concerts. She also was a presenter and workshop leader at national conferences on music education and musicology.
She improved the quality of recitals for the Lancaster Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and provided advice and mentoring for high school choir programs in the Buffalo schools.
“She was the best music teacher,” one of her colleagues wrote in a Facebook tribute. “She taught me how good a music program could be, firing on all cylinders – band, chorus and orchestra equally. I will never forget that or her positive personality.”
A member of University Baptist Church in Amherst, she was an avid reader, with a special interest in history and genealogy. She also was a football fan and was devoted to the Baylor Bears and Buffalo Bills.
Survivors include her father, Dr. Dale Meredith; a sister, Laura Geiger; a brother, Timothy Neal; nieces, nephews and cousins.
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.