Fred B. Knutson, founding conductor of the Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble, was born and educated in Porterville, California. Having begun the study of piano at the age of 7, Mr. Knutson continued with his musical training throughout his entire educational career.
He graduated from Porterville Public Schools, continued his education at Porterville Community College and transferred to California State University, Stanislaus where he studied voice with Anna Carol Dudley and Margaret Dehning, piano with the late Sylvia Ghiglieri, and choral musicianship with Dr. Gary L. Unruh.
Upon graduation, he served for six years as the Director of Choral Activities at Green Acres Junior High School in Visalia, California where under his tutelage the Vocal Music Program experienced tremendous growth. With three young singers, he founded the Green Acres Boys Chorus – an organization that grew to over fifty young men within a short period of time. He also served as founding Musical Director of the “Green Acres Little Theatre” with the late Joyce Noga Imbach. The Theatre continues to annually present Broadway Musical Productions featuring 12, 13, and 14 year old children after more than 30 years in existence. Several students have grown from this program to make noteworthy careers in American film and theatre, most notably current Broadway actress Betsy Wolfe.
From 1984 to 2004, Mr. Knutson ventured into the world of business and assumed ownership and managerial duties of his family’s local business, the Porterville Hardware Company. It was during this time that he founded the Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble with his accompanist and former choir teacher, Mrs. Melba Rauber. Closing the hardware business in 2004, Mr. Knutson served for a period of time as the program director for Kingsway International, a company specializing in concert tours for performing arts organizations.
In 2006, he returned to his first love – the classroom. Currently serving as director of Choral Activities at Pioneer Middle School in the Porterville Unified School District, Mr. Knutson is thrilled to once again have the opportunity to share his love of music with a new generation of students. In addition to his responsibilities as an educator and conductor of the Sierra Vocal Arts Ensemble, Mr. Knutson serves as Organist and Senior Warden for his Church, St. John’s Anglican Parish in Porterville.