One day before Tom Hall is to conduct his farewell concert after 35 years as music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the organization has named his successor.
Texas-born Anthony Blake Clark, 25, a conductor and composer who has worked extensively in the U.S. and Europe, will start officially in the job July 1. He will be the third music director in the 51-year history of the Choral Arts Society.
"I'm tickled to death to be here," said Clark, who led the chorus in January for the first time as one of three finalists for the post. "We worked for two-and-a-half hours on material for Tom Hall's last concert. It was a lot of fun. I felt they were very receptive."
Clark, who was raised on a farm in the Texas Panhandle, is director of music and worship arts at the Chevy Chase United Methodist Church and artistic director of St. Maries Choral Arts in Southern Maryland. He's also director of the Richmond Women's Chorus.
"We had well over 50 very qualified applicants from around the globe," Choral Arts board President Richard Dellheim said. "What we find in Blake is an extraordinarily gifted musician who is bursting with energy and ideas, someone who is a superb match for the chorus. We think Blake is a rising star."
Clark's resume includes work as assistant chorus master for eminent conductor John Eliot Gardiner's performance of Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" with the Berlin Philharmonic. Clark has conducted several choral groups in England and the U.S., and he also co-founded the Texas Baroque Ensemble.
"I'm definitely a baroque guy and a Handel nut," Clark said. "I also love English choral music. The repertoire for Choral Arts will continue to be wide-ranging."
Clark, who has begun planning the 2017-18 season, said his ambition is "to broaden choral music's footprint in Baltimore" and "make it accessible to everyone, black or white, rich or poor. Choral music breeds community, awareness and compassion," he said.