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Posted: 12/19/20

Longtime TAMIU Faculty Member, LPO Director Brendan Townsend Dies

 

Brendan Townsend
Brendan Townsend  

Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) president Dr. Pablo Arenaz has offered a statement on the passing in Houston of TAMIU assistant professor of Music and Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra music director Brendan Townsend this Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. 

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of longtime faculty member Brendan Townsend. His artistry and teaching made a profound impact on TAMIU students and our community.  His leadership and advocacy for the performing arts on and off campus helped elevate TAMIU’s music and performing arts program and our community’s quality of life. As music director and conductor of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), he embraced our border culture and eagerly explored new horizons in developing the LPO’s various concert seasons. His enthusiastic support of TAMIU and our Laredo was unmatched and we will miss his jovial presence on campus, in our classrooms, on stage and in our community, ” Dr. Arenaz said.

Townsend joined TAMIU in 2003 and was an assistant professor of Music and a gifted cellist who originally hailed from Cork, Ireland. Over his tenure at TAMIU he also served as Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ department of Fine and Performing Arts and president of the Faculty Senate. He held a joint appointment as music director and conductor of the LPO. 

Prior to coming to Laredo, he held directorships with Tennessee’s Bryan Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio and the Netherlands’ Ars Antiqua et Nova and Sinfonietta Geleen. 

Guest conducting throughout Europe included performances with the Dutch Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Symphony Orchestra, Cork School of Music Symphony Orchestra, Broadway Düsseldorf, Opera Comique Maastricht, Opera Zuid and the Transylvanian State Symphony. 

In the United States, he led performances with the symphony orchestras of Charleston, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Knoxville, Mississippi, San Antonio and Topeka. In recent seasons, he had been a regular conductor with the Orquesta Filarmónica de Honduras.

Townsend was widely known as a proponent of American composers and was also deeply committed to bringing the works of living composers into the standard repertoire. 

In addition to presenting the scores of established composers such as John Adams, Behzad Ranjbaran, Christopher Rouse and Roberto Sierra, he consistently championed several self-publishing composers, including Lee Actor, Linda Robbins Coleman and Linda Tutas Haugen. 

In 2007, he led the LPO to a national ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music from the American Symphony Orchestra League. 

Most recently, he was involved  in the 2019 visit and Laredo performance of Yo Yo Ma as part of his official “Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Project Day of Action” and a TAMIU simulcast concert by Yo-Yo Ma. He was 52 years old at the time of his passing.

For more on the University’s story, click on tamiu.edu, follow its social channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.

Brendan Townsend
Brendan Townsend, conducting the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra (Archive Photo)