The History of Texas Camerata

Fort Worth Early Music (FWEM) was co-founded in 1990 by Dr. Lenora McCroskey and Harriet Risk Woldt to promote the live performance of music written before 1800 in Fort Worth and its vicinity.  In the Spring of 2004, Fort Worth Early Music became Texas Camerata to reflect the organization’s increased outreach in Fort Worth and beyond. Deciding upon a name that best represents a continuation of our longstanding tradition of presenting the music of the Baroque on period instruments proved to be an interesting and challenging process.

The origins of the Camerata extend back to the Renaissance, when a group of Florentine noblemen and musicians gathered on a regular basis in the late 16th century to discuss poetry, music, and other subjects. One of the most important ideas cultivated by the Florentine Camerata was the desire to return to a “pure” expressive style of unaccompanied singing believed to have been practiced by the ancient Greeks. This in turn led to some of the earliest experiments in opera at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. The idea of a Camerata, in which a collegial group of musicians gathers to rehearse and then perform the rich and varied repertoire of the Baroque era, seems to describe our group perfectly.

Since its inception, Fort Worth Early Music, and now Texas Camerata, has been the city’s primary resource for early music performances by professional artists. The musicians, many of whom play with the Fort Worth Symphony, perform on authentic Baroque instruments.  A typical Texas Camerata concert includes works by well-known Baroque composers such as Bach, Handel and Vivaldi, as well as pieces by less familiar composers such as Monteclair, Boismortier, and Castello.

Under the artistic direction of Kristin Van Cleve, Texas Camerata presents a series of four subscription concerts each season, with performances at St. Patrick Cathedral and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.  These chamber concerts utilize 6-12 musicians, depending on the repertoire, and often include one or two vocalists.  Texas Camerata also performs throughout the North Texas area and has appeared at the Mesquite Arts Center, Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Plano, University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Perkins Chapel (Southern Methodist University- Dallas) and the University of Dallas.