St. Philip’s organist John L. Blackburn will present an organ concert of “cool” music, followed by a reception of “Empty Bowls” filled with ice cream provided by H-E-B, both benefiting the Beeville Vineyard and the Berclair Mission Sunday, Aug. 24, at 3 p.m. at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
“Empty Bowls” is an international project to fight hunger, personalized by artists on a community level. This is the second time local potters have organized this project locally; the first event was in 2012.
A graduate of Baylor University, Blackburn holds a bachelor’s degree in church music with organ emphasis and also a master of music degree in church music. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, Organ Historical Society, Pi Kappa Lamba, The Hymn Society of the United States and Canada, and The Royal School of Church Musicians.
He participated in the Doctorate of Musical Arts program at the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied with Judith and Gerre Hancock. At Baylor, his primary professors included Joyce Jones, David Music, Terry York and Randall Bradley.
Blackburn previously served as director of music ministries at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, organist for Temple Rodef Shalom and organist and music administrative assistant at Calvary Baptist Church, all in Waco.
As a musician for sacred service, Blackburn excels at the art of improvisation. He has performed, lectured and coached other organists and pianists in this field. He is also the founder of Music in the Nave, a concert series in Beeville, which brings noted musicians and ensembles from around the world to a smaller community. He is one of the organizers and co-directors of the Texas Baroque Ensemble, which performed Handel’s Messiah last April at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Hymns Blackburn has written are sung around Texas and the Southeast, and at a National Convention for the Organ Historical Society in Washington, D.C., in July of 2011.
Blackburn has served on the board of Schola Cantorum of Texas, a professional choir based in Fort Worth. He has served as a lecturer, teacher and performer for several Pipe Organ Encounters, a national effort to teach both youth and adults how to play the organ.
After the organ concert, those in attendance may choose a bowl to be filled for a suggested minimum donation. For many such events, the bowls are filled with soup, but in August, the local potters decided ice cream would be much more appealing, and H-E-B graciously offered to fill the bowls.
Dr. Sarah Gremmel, head potter, suggests a minimum gift of $20 for the concert plus a bowl filled with ice cream. Larger amounts will gladly be accepted, while those who want to help but can’t afford that amount may opt for a plastic bowl for a smaller donation.
The Beeville Vineyard always needs funds at the end of the summer, when vacation time distracts the community from helping others. Funds from the concert and “Empty Bowls” project will help the Vineyard assist many more needy people in our area.
St. Philip’s Berclair mission also distributes food to the needy, and the concert “Empty Bowls” support will increase the number of people who can be helped in that small community.
All donations to the concert and “Empty Bowls” are tax-deductible, and the community is encouraged to make Beeville’s second “Empty Bowls” project a huge success.