Barry Scott Williamson, Founder and Artistic Director of the Texas Bach Festival, has a lengthy and revered international history of conducting innovation and accomplishment. Known for his dynamic performances of 18th century repertoire, his knowledge and affinity with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries has been of particular significance. His work with the Austin Civic Chorus (1987-1991) elevated the organization into one of Austin's leading choral organizations, including historic performances of Bach's B Minor Mass (May 1989) and Mozart's Requiem, Thamos, König in Ägypten and Exsultate, jubilate (February 1991). Dr. Williamson worked with renowned Bach scholar/conductor Helmuth Rilling summers 1988-1990 at the Oregon Bach Festival, conducting several Bach and Mozart works, and was subsequently invited to compete at the 1991 European Music Festival in Stuttgart, where he finished as one of three finalist winners out of 63 conductors.
Upon receiving his DMA from UT-Austin (1993), Williamson served as Director of Choral Activities at UT-El Paso, where he conducted El Paso's first-ever complete performance of Handel's Messiah (April 1996). As Founding Artistic Director of the Texas Choral Consort (1997-2007, now Panoramic Voices), Dr. Williamson envisioned and led several more singular choral/orchestral events, including Austin's first separate and complete performances of Messiah (August 2001), which led to TCC's historic Messiah tour of Ireland in April 2002, commemorating the work's 260th anniversary. Williamson also led TCC in performance tours of Germany, Austria and Italy (2004) and England and Wales (2006), the latter highlighted by a performance of Mozart's Requiem with the Llandaff Cathedral Choral Society. Other notable works he conducted with TCC were Bach's St. John Passion and B Minor Mass, Haydn's Late Masses and The Creation, Mozart's C Minor Mass and Austin's first-ever performance of Dvořák's Stabat Mater (February 2007). Dr. Williamson has also held conducting positions with the Austin Lyric (now Austin) Opera, UT-Austin University Chorus, El Paso Pro-Musica and El Paso Symphony Chorus, Vocali of Austin and MidAmerica Productions in New York City, where he was John Rutter's chorus preparer of choice for his many Carnegie Hall performances.
After returning to the Austin-Georgetown area from New York, Dr. Williamson again immersed himself in the local choral-church music scene. Named Director of Music Ministries at Georgetown's St. Helen Catholic Church in October 2014, he is in his third year of building and leading its large and eclectic sacred music program. Special projects include the St. Helen Concert Series, church-community choral events on All Saints Day (Fauré and Rutter Requiems) and the hosting of the inaugural Texas Bach Festival - all held in St. Helen's beautiful sanctuary. The highly anticipated inaugural 2017 festival consisted of two free concerts in downtown Georgetown on June 18 and 30, followed by two chamber music concerts featuring Austin's Artisan Quartet, Wild Basin Winds and pianist Rick Rowley July 6 and 8, a program of Bach solo cantatas presented by the TBF Choir soloists and TBF Orchestra on July 7, and the TBF Choir and Orchestra's July 9 choral finale, highlighted by the Bach Magnificat.
The 2018 Festival will expand to a total of 8 concerts, with a third free/outreach concert in Sun City, and a fifth Festival series concert added at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Austin on July 8, featuring the TBF Choir and pianist Rick Rowley. The 2018 Festival will also mark the debut of the Texas Bach Festival Camerata, with Maestro Williamson conducting the Bach Brandenburg No. 2, Handel’s Water Music Suite in F Major and Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate. Dr. Williamson will be returning for the 2018 Festival from New York City, where he will conduct Fauré’s sublime Requiem on June 24 in the famed Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall. Looking ahead to 2019, TBF will unveil its most exciting and significant project to date, when internationally-famed Bach conductor and scholar Helmuth Rilling will appear with the Festival to conduct Bach’s immortal St. Matthew Passion.