Blake Clark, Director for Richmond Women’s Chorus
Conductor and composer Anthony Blake Clark is one of the most exciting and fresh young voices in classical music today. He has conducted ensembles in the US and Europe and his compositions have been heard all across the state of Texas, the American East Coast, the UK, and the Czech Republic. Clark currently holds the post of Director of Music and Worship Arts at the historic Chevy Chase United Methodist Church in the Washington DC area, Artistic Director of the Richmond Women’s Chorus, and Co-Founder/Principal Conductor of Pro Ecclessia/Texas Baroque Ensemble, and most recently has been named Artistic Director of St. Maries Musica, a chamber choir in Maryland. He is interested in the great choral/orchestral masterworks, and has helped prepare choruses for masters such as Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Simon Halsey CBE, Gijs Leenaars, and Julian Wilkins for performances with some of the best ensembles in the world including the Berliner Philharmoniker and Rundfunk Chor Berlin.
Clark’s first major conducting activity began while still an undergraduate; at age 21 he co-founded The Texas Baroque Ensemble and conducted the group’s premiere performance of Mozart’s Requiem in San Antonio, Texas. Conducting engagements with Texas Baroque have included performances of Mozart’s Requiem, a French instrumental programme, a 4-city tour of Handel’s Messiah, as well as their most recent concert featuring works by Bach, Albinoni, and Monteverdi. A brief hiatus due to Clark’s move to Europe allowed an opportunity for TBE to be restructured; Pro Ecclessia, the choral division of the TBE organization, will re-launch in the autumn of 2016.
Recent professional activity has included assistant conducting for the Rundfunk Chor Berlin’s performance of “Oedipus Rex” by Stravinsky with the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner in June of 2016. In August of 2016 he will also be a conductor in the massive piece the public domain by David Lang at the Lincoln Center in New York City, working under his mentor Simon Halsey, CBE.
Currently at the end of his first season as Ensemble Director for the Richmond Women’s Chorus, an all-female choir in Virginia’s capital city, Clark has led celebrated performances and continues to develop the choir’s thriving musical culture. Additionally, as Director of Music and Worship Arts at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church located inside the DC beltway, Clark regularly leads the Sanctuary Choir in performances of sacred masterworks and is also the Artistic Director of the Soundings Concert Series, which brings renowned soloists and ensembles to the prime DC area venue for free public performances. As Artistic Director of St. Maries Musica, Clark leads 10-12 performances per season with this elite chamber ensemble and will also prepare the choir for 2 performances with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia.
A Texas native, Anthony Blake Clark attended Baylor University School of Music to study composition with esteemed composer Dr. Scott McAllister. While at Baylor he was drawn into the world of conducting and studied with Dr. Lynne Gackle and was a 4-year member of the prestigious Baylor A Cappella Choir under the direction of Dr. Alan Raines. In his final year at Baylor he was a student conductor for the Baylor Chamber Singers, whom he conducted in several concerts. He then moved to England and completed a Master’s Degree under 3-time Grammy Award winner Simon Halsey (CBE and recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music), at the University of Birmingham. While completing his studies in England, Clark had the great privilege of being a member of the internationally acclaimed CBSO Chorus, where he sang under some of the world’s greatest conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Andris Nelsons, Edward Gardiner, and Gianandrea Noseda. Clark also was employed by the CBSO to conduct the Arts Champion Community Choir as part of an initiative to create a CBSO sponsored community chorus structure across the entire city of Birmingham. While in England Clark also conducted in the London Symphony Chorus “Come and Sing Day”, took rehearsals for the CBSO Chorus, and led the Barber Festival Sinfonia in their annual summer festival. As Professor Halsey’s graduate student, Clark was partially responsible for the training of undergraduates in choral music and conducted the University Camerata, as well as assistant conductor for the University Singers, the University Women’s Choir, and the University Chorus.
Clark also has had extensive training in festivals and workshops under master tutors; most recently he was granted a Fellowship to conduct in the 2016 Yale School of Music’s Norfolk Music Festival led by world-renowned conductor Simon Carrington, whom he also worked with in the 2013 Sarteano Workshop. He has also participated in an orchestral conducting workshop in London under the guidance of Achim Holub, culminating in leading the London Classical Soloists in a performance of Mozart’s Symphony 41. Clark is a regular guest conductor and arranger for the Oak Hills Singers of Oak Hills Church, San Antonio where he completed 6 consecutive Holy Week residencies, conducting the Oak Hills Singers and orchestra for the week’s services that are attended by approximately 9,000 people each year.
Anthony Blake Clark is also an active composer. Recently his music has been performed in the Washington DC area and the Dvorak National Museum Concert Hall in Prague, Czech Republic. Clark was invited to participate in the 2012 Czech-American Summer Music Institute where he studied with celebrated composer Ladislav Kubik. Clark’s chamber piece Incidental Music on the Pied Piper of Hamelin won the Robert Browning Bi-Centennial Composition Contest and was performed in a concert series on Baylor University’s campus.
Joshua Wortham, Director for Richmond Men’s Chorus
During his college career, Joshua was a member of the University Chorale, Chamber Choir and Handbell Choir (all auditioned ensembles) as well as the opera workshop performing the roles of Guglielmo (Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte) and Frank (Strauss’ Die Fledermaus). As a sophomore, he was featured as a solo pianist accompanied by the CU Concert Band. In May 2004, Joshua co-directed a performance tour with the Chamber Project throughout Brazil. This group gave the international premier of his choral suite, “Generations Sing Praise.” During the summer months, Joshua was active with Kadasha, the praise and worship ministry for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church based at Lake Junaluska, NC.
He currently serves as the Music Director and Organist for Chester United Methodist Church. In 2007, Joshua founded the Chester Community Chorus in an effort to enrich cultural life in Chesterfield County. In his free time, Joshua enjoys working with community theater with Henrico Theater Company and at the Fort Lee Playhouse.
Steve Austin, Accompanist for Richmond Men’s Chorus
Mr. Austin has been the chorus’ accompanist since its inception. During his early years in Richmond, he accompanied several school choral groups at George Wythe High School and studied piano with Alphonse Gagne and Maude Bridgeman Stevens. He attended VCU and studied piano with Vera Lendvay and electronic music with Dr. Loran Carrier. In 1980, Steve relocated to Surry, Virginia, where he became active with community choral activities, also serving as accompanist for The Generations II of Wakefield.
Steve served as accompanist for the Petersburg Festival Chorus from 1994 to 1997. After moving back to Richmond in the fall of 1994, he sang bass and was pianist for the Society Singers. He has also provided piano, midi mixing, and sound design for Richmond Triangle Players and Henrico Theatre Company productions.
Patricia J. Schrock, Accompanist for Richmond Women’s Chorus
Patricia J. Schrock, a native of Millersburg, Indiana, is an organist, accompanist, harpsichordist and teacher. Ms. Schrock, since 2006, serves as the Director of Music at the Church of the Epiphany in Richmond. At Epiphany she plans the liturgies, accompanies and directs various choirs, and plays numerous masses. Before arriving in Richmond she spent ten years at Holy Trinity Church in Washington D.C. Ms. Schrock oversaw the renovation of the historic 1925 E.M. Skinner organ in the main church and the installation of the tracker action organ by Visser & Associates in the chapel. Ms. Schrock currently serves as the accompanist for Temple Or Ami in Richmond and has a private organ/piano studio.
An active performer in the greater Washington area she recently performed the Poulenc and Stephen Paulus organ concerti to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the historic E.M. Skinner organ at Holy Trinity. Ms. Schrock has toured internationally with choirs to England, Ireland, Portugal, Brazil, Spain and France, performing in famous venues on some of the most prominent organs in Europe.
Ms. Schrock received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Goshen College and her Master of Arts from the University of Notre Dame. She did post-graduate work at Arizona State studying organ with Robert Clark and harpsichord with John Metz. She also studied piano with Marvin Blickenstaff, and organ with Gail Walton and Craig Cramer.
She is a member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and the American Guild of Organists. As a past Dean of the Washington DC chapter and the DCAGO Foundation Board she currently chairs the New Organists Development Scholarship Committee for the Richmond AGO Chapter. Ms. Schrock joined the Richmond Women’s Chorus in October as their accompanist.