The innovative collaboration linking the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, Laredo Community College and Texas A&M International University now has a catalyst to help lead its growth and development. Brendan Townsend, an acclaimed conductor and cellist, has been appointed music director for the LPO. He will also hold joint appointments as an assistant professor of music at TAMIU and LCC and will conduct orchestras at both institutions. (photos)
The shared collaboration stems from a 2002 initiative, which links the three entities and enables them to share strengths and capabilities in order to better music performance and education in Laredo.
Dr. Ramon Dovalina, LCC president, Dr. Ray Keck, TAMIU president, and Theresa Nimchan, LPO president, concurred that Townsend's appointment will act as a catalyst to move the new LPO forward.
Dr. Dovalina noted the collaboration will help to inspire students.
"The arts and education have always enjoyed close ties, but this new partnership between LCC, TAMIU and the LPO will help make the highest level of professional performance more accessible to students, their parents and a larger audience...it may also encourage our young people to aspire to careers in music education and performance. We are thrilled with the prospect and are pleased with the opportunity to host LPO performances in our new Martinez Fine Arts Center for the benefit of all," Dr. Dovalina said.
Dr. Keck said the collaboration is something other groups state and nationwide are eyeing.
"This truly is an innovative partnership and people across our State and nation are looking at this as a prototype for how performance entities can co-exist with higher education. I know we're all excited about the challenge, the opportunities this will make real for all our students and community, and the tremendous potential this has to forge our shared growth in the arts," Dr. Keck said.
Theresa Nimchan, LPO president, said the collaboration will encourage a renaissance for the LPO.
"This collaboration is a realization of a long-cherished dream for the LPO: an affiliation with both higher education institutions that allows us to maximize our resources, while building the LPO and seeking additional resources. With the brilliant leadership of Mr. Townsend, we have a catalyst in place to help drive the continued renaissance of Laredo's premiere orchestra. We are eager to begin our new season, our new LPO, our new future," Nimchan explained.
The LPO will announce its 2003-2004 season at an upcoming press conference. Plans are also being finalized for a benefit Gala to be scheduled Dec. 11 with music to be provided by the Eddie Galvan Orchestra. Ticket information is available by calling LPO offices.
Originally from Cork, Ireland, Townsend has been gaining accolades and praise for his "High energy and theatrical sensibility" since his arrival in the United States in 1997. His dynamic personality, insightful musicianship and charisma have made him a favorite of audiences, musicians and critics alike.
He said he is looking forward to channeling his energy into helping to create a new Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra that seeks and celebrates partnerships with the people of Los Dos Laredos.
"In an era when arts agencies around the world are struggling to survive, this collaboration between educational and artistic entities is truly a wonderful concept. Not only does it contribute to the educational mission of the Orchestra, but this 'new' way of doing things is reflective of how I as music director intent to bring the Orchestra into the community, doing more audience-friendly programs which I hope will truly make the Orchestra, Laredo's own," Townsend said.
Townsend began studying cello at the age of five at the Cork School of Music where he also studied Chamber Music, Choral singing, Orchestra and Aural Training. He graduated with an education degree in 1988. After spending a year at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany, he moved to the Conversatorium voor Muziek in Maastricht, the Netherlands to study Cello with Mirel Iancovici and conducting with Jan Stulen. He graduated in 1994.
Other major teachers he has studied with include Ilya Musin, Yuri Termikanov, Sir Edward Downes, Christopher Wilkins, and Leif Bjalland. Following his professional symphonic debut in 1994 with the Amsterdam Promenade Orchestra he became music director of two Dutch chamber orchestras Sinfonietta Geleen and "Ars Antiqua et Nova" in Eindhoven in 1995.
Over the course of two years with both orchestras, he was credited for his innovative programming and renewing community interest and corporate involvement in these musical organizations.
In 1997 he moved to the United States to become music director of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. In 2001 he became the music director of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra in Cookeville, TN where he was widely lauded for his community outreach and involvement which resulted in a broadening of the audience base and fiscal involvement with local organizations. Musically, he brought the orchestra to new levels of professionalism and mastery and was praised for his insightful programming, combining old masters with accessible music of the 20th century.
A passionate educator, he has been a frequent clinician across the southern half of the U.S. including Texas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Tennessee. As a cellist Townsend's primary interest is in Chamber Music. He has been involved with festivals across Europe and the United States both as performer and teacher. He has played with the Victoria (Texas) Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and the Chattanooga Symphony, TN.
As a guest conductor, Townsend has worked with orchestras, choirs and in theaters across Europe and the United States including the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Symphony Orchestra, Cork Sinfonietta, CSM Symphony, Broadway Dusseldorf, Opera Comique Maastricht, Opera Zuid, Transylvanian State Symphony, New World Symphony, Knoxville Symphony, Charleston Symphony, and the San Antonio Symphony.
For additional information, contact Townsend at LCC at 721-5330, at TAMIU at 326.3039 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. LPO offices are now located at room 216C, of the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts.