Some could make it; some couldn’t.
“So, I thought to myself, ‘Why not just put my own ensemble together?’”
And, that’s exactly what he and co-founder Blake Clark did.
“It’s taken a lot of patience and a lot of time,” Blackburn says.
The result is the Texas Baroque Ensemble, comprised of 25 musicians, four soloists and 26 choir members from Dallas, Denton, San Antonio, Houston, Waco and Seguin.
“I had to call in a lot of favors,” he admits.
Their premier performance is at 3:30 Sunday afternoon in San Antonio at the Travis Park United Methodist Church. “It’s our maiden voyage, if you will,” Blackburn says.
Blackburn’s and Clark’s credentials are significant.
Blackburn is the organist and choirmaster at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and is an adjunct instructor at Coastal Bend College where he teaches music appreciation. He has performed organ recitals extensively both in the United States and in Europe. Six months ago, he was the director of music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Waco but returned to Beeville to help operate his parents’ ranch near Berclair.
Clark is a conductor, composer and violinist who has conducted or performed primarily in Europe. He will conduct the ensemble Sunday afternoon as it performs Mozart’s Requiem. Prior to the Requiem, Blackburn will perform a solo organ composition by Bach.
The goal of the ensemble, he says, “is to bring the highest quality performances of sacred music to Texas, specifically from the late Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods.”
At first, Ensemble musicians will be paid with revenue from ticket sales; later, the founders plan to incorporate grant and corporate funding.
Blackburn and Clark are planning to take “The Messiah” on a Texas tour next year — including at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on April 27 in Beeville. They hope to establish San Antonio as the Ensemble’s permanent home but also to perform statewide.
Blackburn cites three factors he believes will help guarantee audience turnout for the concerts in an environment that often promises only limited interest in classical music.
“To begin with,” he says, “we can assure quality. Our musicians are professional. But, listeners always can find something familiar in the music. You can find Bach in Paul Simon, Beethoven in Billy Joel. And, our musicians will be prepared. The concerts will be a great experience.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.