Mission & History

Now in its fifth full concert season, the Austin Baroque Orchestra & Chorus is a Central Texas-based ensemble that presents historically informed performances of music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Instrumentalists following the "Circa 1718" concert at Mission Concepcion in San Antonio

With programming that is both innovative and carefully researched by the artistic director, the ensemble’s mission is to promote early music in Central Texas. Each season features a series of five diverse concerts of orchestral, choral-orchestral, and chamber works. Our diverse programs consist of a varied repertoire, from a cappella Renaissance motets to large-scale Baroque cantatas, and from Classic-era chamber music to larger orchestral works such as symphonies and concerti. Preceding each concert is an informal and informative talk about the music led by founder and artistic director, Billy Traylor.

Highlights of the ensemble’s recent seasons include “A Tale of Three Cathedrals,” a concert of sacred music from three 18th-century Mexican cathedrals. This performance, held at San Antonio’s historic Mission Concepción, was in part a celebration of the San Antonio Missions’ recent selection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2015, ABO performed the first known Texas performance of the later, larger version (1732) of Handel’s first oratorio Esther. Additionally, in 2013, the ensemble presented first known Texas performance of Georg Böhm’s Johannespassion (c. 1705), formerly attributed to Handel. The ensemble has been invited to perform at a number of conferences and meetings, most notably their 2012 performance in Mexico at the Cathedral-Basilica of Durango as part of the third annual Festival of Viceregal Music; that concert consisted of works composed for the cathedral and preserved in its archives.

Ensemble Settecento following its first concert in October of 2011.

In May of 2011, eleven music students who met through the University of Texas Early Music Ensemble founded the group, then known as Ensemble Settecento. Pictured here are the founding members following their debut concert at First United Methodist Church, October 9, 2011 (left to right: Renata van der Vyver, Joan Carlson, Sophia Acheson, Claire Daniels, Curtis Baldridge, Scott Davis, Sarah Bates, Billy Traylor, David Ballam, Andrew Davis, and Laura Miller).

Today, the combined orchestra and choir consists of over thirty musicians with advanced training in historically informed performance and singing, and uses replicas of instruments from the Renaissance and Baroque and Classic eras.

Introductory Video