Juan Carlos Acosta leading the way at Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe


The Village Church’s new Director of Music Ministries Juan Carlos Acosta will guide one of the most dramatic and classical settings of the Lord Nelson Mass by Franz Joseph Haydn on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. with a full orchestra and choir.

This will be the first-ever performance of the Lord Nelson Mass at the Village Church, featuring the Village Church Chancel Choir, Village Community Chorale, pianist David Bergstedt and soloists Katie Walders, Elly Roseberry, Alvin Almazan and Nicholas Newton. The “dynamic” Bergstedt will also perform J.S. Bach’s Klavier Concerto No. IV in A Major.

The 35-year-old Acosta has been at the Village Church for a little less than a year, starting in April 2015.

“Sacred music has always been a part of my life,” said Acosta, whose father is a pastor. “It’s always been a part of who I am and what I do. I really feel like it’s my calling.”

As the church’s Director of Music Ministries, Acosta leads the Chancel Choir, the Community Chorale and the Youth Choir. In addition to his duties at the church, he is also the Associate Artistic Director for San Diego choral ensemble SACRA/PROFANA.

Acosta, a conductor, educator and professional tenor, brings a lifelong love for music to the church.

“The family legend goes that my mom was learning to play the guitar when she was pregnant so she would rest the guitar on her belly and that was my first exposure to music,” Acosta said.

His parents recognized early on that he was musically inclined as he sang around the house, set up pots and pans as his drum set and made up his own songs playing the family piano. He sang in the St. Paul’s Cathedral Boys Choir in downtown San Diego, played the saxophone in the school band, and took guitar and piano lessons. By high school, his involvement in music was mostly instrumental as he played in the high school marching band. As a high school student he tried to be a teacher’s assistant for the choir but the conductor convinced him that he should actually sing in the group.

“I absolutely loved it. I realized then that I needed to be making music at some level,” Acosta said.

Acosta entered the music education program at San Diego State University and while in college had a lot of work as a musician, teaching lessons and singing in choirs. He got a full-time position at a First United Methodist Church in Chula Vista where he stayed for 10 years, in the meantime earning his master’s degree in conducting from San Diego State University.

He worked as the choir director at the Chula Vista School of Creative and Performing Arts, was an adjunct professor at Cuyamuca College and performed with the San Diego Opera, San Diego Master Chorale and the La Jolla Symphony Chorus.

Acosta prefers conducting to performing and collaborating with others rather than being a soloist in the spotlight.

“I realized through the help of friends that I really am most alive and in my element when I’m working with a choir and that has really fueled me,” said Acosta.

Acosta said he was fortunate that in coming to the Village Church he inherited a traditionally strong music program. He said his job over the last year has been mostly to “learn the lay of the land” and to build upon an already solid program. His one change was combining the separate boys and girls middle school youth choirs into one large group of talented young singers.

Acosta and “the heart of the music program,” the Chancel Choir, rehearse every Thursday for Sunday services, but for this special concert they have added Saturday practices along with the Community Chorale to prepare. He’s excited for the performance and for the future of the music program at the Village Church.

“My goal is to build on the strength of the groups and build the concert community here in Rancho Santa Fe, bringing in area musicians and cultivating a community that supports the performing arts,” said Acosta. “I’m loving this community and the people here are great. It’s a blessing to be here.” For more information on the free Feb. 28 performance of the Lord Nelson Mass, visit or call (858) 756-2441.