Friday, September 01, 2017

Anthony Blake Clark Brings a New Song to Baltimore

Written by  Frankie Kujawa
Anthony Blake Clark takes the helm at Baltimore Choral Arts Anthony Blake Clark takes the helm at Baltimore Choral Arts

Fresh energy and vision at Baltimore Choral Arts

Ella Fitzgerald once said, “Music is the universal language... it brings people closer together.” No one is more fluent in that language than Baltimore Choral Arts Society’s newly named musical director Anthony Blake Clark. A conductor and composer who’s led choral and orchestral ensembles in the US and Europe, Clark is the third musical director in Baltimore Choral Arts’ 51-year history. The Texan-native recently chatted with Baltimore OUTloud about his passion for music, his new position, and his vision for infusing Baltimore communities with music.

“I grew up in a very small Texas town,” Clark began. “I was the ‘token piano boy’ in a small farming town. Most of the people around town supported the farming industry. I stuck out like a sore thumb.” Clark laughed before adding, “But I had great teachers and it was a great place to grow up. I had great parents, and teachers, who thrusted me to go out and do big things so I wouldn’t limit myself or feel limited to small-town Texas. It was a great place to grow up, and is great to go back and visit.”

Clark’s exuberance and passion for music is obvious within the first few minutes of chatting with him. As long as he could remember he always was connected with music. “It went in cycles for me,” Clark explained. “I don’t really remember this, but my parents told me that one time when I was sick, they bought me the old Cecil B. DeMille film, The Ten Commandments. It has the Elmer Bernstein score. I apparently would break apart pant hangers and I would use that as a baton and conduct,” Clark laughed. “I was three and I would stand in front of the TV and conduct the score.”

Clark thought for a while that he would be a concert pianist and then thought he would eventually go to New York City to compose full-time. “It was in college that I realized that this conducting thing may work for me.” He went on to describe the realization of his ability to understand music on a different level. “I understood larger musical concepts that are required. You have to think in large-scale constructs and have some sort of leadership dynamic to convince people the way you want a piece performed. I found that I really had a passion for it.” Along the way Clark, who also learned violin as boy, “kept adding instruments to my belt.”

Along with leading ensembles throughout the US and Europe, Clark’s compositions have been heard across the country, as well as in the UK and the Czech Republic. He has prepared choruses for Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Simon Halsey, Gijs Leenaars, and Julian Wilkins for performances with top ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Berlin Radio Choir.

His recent appointment as musical director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society weighs additional weight as being only the third musical director in the organization’s 51-year history. “There are a lot of expectations that surround it and it’s very exciting,” Clark said. “More than any other emotion, I’m honored. [Baltimore Choral Arts Society] has a long and interesting history so it’s very special to me to be the newest and the youngest musical director.” Clark added that the organization usually hires young. “I am grateful that they’re an organization that takes a chance and cultivates talent from a young age. Coming into an organization with such a varied history, we are very pumped to get things going this season!”

Clark’s vision for the Baltimore Choral Arts Society? “Well, first we have a tradition of excellence in execution of really great music,” he said. “We’ll continue to put on jaw-dropping concerts.”

Upon learning that the issue this article was slated for OUTloud’s “theatre issue” Clark added, “I think choral music, more than any other concert music, tells a story in a very magical way. We’re all storytellers, so it’s my aim to continue to tell convincing stories that speak of the human condition and what we’re all experiencing in the world right now. I envision us going out into more performance venues and opportunities and collaborations. Maybe even adding some new elements into our concerts. I envision lots of collaborations in the community. I want to continue telling stories in an impactful way.”


Seasons of Song
Baltimore Choral Arts Society Upcoming Concerts

Free Community Sing
Friday, October 13th, 2017 at 7pm
Northside Baptist Church
1100 East Northern Parkway, Baltimore

Handel’s Dixit Dominus
Saturday, October 28th, 2017 at 8pm
Kraushaar Auditorium
1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson

Christmas with Choral Arts
Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 at 7:30pm
The Baltimore Basilica
409 Cathedral Street, Baltimore

Sing-Along Messiah
Friday, December 15th, 2017 at 7:30pm
Kraushaar Auditorium
1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson

Christmas for Kids
Saturday, December 16th, 2017 at 11am
Kraushaar Auditorium
1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson

A Ruby Cabaret – Annual Baltimore Choral Arts Fundraiser
Saturday, April 14th, 2018 at 6:30pm
Grand Lodge Ballroom in Hunt Valley
304 International Circle, Cockeysville, Maryland

Durufle’s Requiem
Sunday, May 6th, 2018 at 3pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
233 North Charles Street, Baltimore


Clark added, “Another vision is to being making more inroads with the community and serving the community in a way that we haven’t before. Such as pairing with other organizations so that all of Baltimore gets singing and understands the power of singing together. The advantages of belonging to a musical community and how music can help you in all aspects of our life. We will continue our relationships with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, as well. We want to provide really cool, symphonic choral music and continue our history of really amazing artistry. And the promotion of choral music is top on our list so that everyone in Baltimore knows how exciting choral music can be.”

Though in Baltimore just a short time, Clark added that he was amazed to find hidden artistic gems throughout the city. “It really surprised me at how steeped in fine arts Baltimore actually is, and it’s a really well-kept secret. I hope that we can blow the top off that and not keep that as a secret anymore. Coming from DC, I think that we compete with our southerly neighbor, and I think everyone in DC should be coming up to Baltimore to see cool stuff. I can’t wait to explore and see all that’s plentiful here! It’s very exciting!”

For more information on the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, visit Baltimorechoralarts.org.

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