By Julie Catalano :: Photography courtesy of Boerne Performing Arts
A funny thing happened to Greg and Sue Talford on their way to retirement. The former band director at the University of Houston and the former elementary school music teacher/principal had successful careers in education and business, produced well-received shows for Kerrville Performing Arts, and were ready to leave all that behind and officially relax when they got the call.
“We were asked to come to Boerne to help start a performing arts organization,” says Sue, board member and marketing/publicity manager. “We said, ‘Sure. We love Boerne.’”
And Boerne loved them back. The town was eager to add a theatrical component to the charming small town mix of top-rated attractions, historic landmarks, retail, dining and a solid visual arts community. “The performing arts were a missing piece of the puzzle,” says Sue.
The Talfords and local forces mobilized, and the volunteer-driven Boerne Performing Arts (BPA) was born in the summer of 2011 with a plan, a board, a logo and a check from the Boerne-Kendall County Economic Development Corporation. It launched its first season with the Vienna Boys Choir, TAO: The Art of the Drum, and Bowfire. Every one of them was a sellout — a record that continues to this day, through five seasons that included such diverse acts as Canadian Brass, New Shanghai Circus, Celtic Nights, Drumline Live and Stepcrew, as well as special events like the Voca People and the Ten Tenors.
“It’s true,” confirms Carol Schultz of the five-year, 100 percent sellout streak, an accomplishment that is a testament to overwhelming community support. But Schultz, a former music educator and president of the BPA board from the beginning, never took anything for granted. “I remember wondering if we could break even with our ticket sales, or maybe get some sponsors and not be in the red.”
She needn’t have worried. “People came out of the woodwork wanting to support us, even before they had seen a single show.” Cordillera Ranch, for example, has been a Silver Sponsor from the start, this year sponsoring the Vocalosity show that kicks off BPA’s sixth season. The outpouring of local support “proved that this community was hungry for that kind of thing right here in their own backyard.”
Luckily it was a backyard with a boffo venue. The 985-seat Champion Auditorium at Boerne-Samuel V. Champion high school is a state-of-the-art showcase for every BPA season, hailed for its acoustics as well as its design. Nearby are rehearsal facilities for band, orchestra, dance, choir and drama. “It’s beautiful,” says Schultz. “Even the artists say that this is not your typical high school auditorium.”
The Boerne Independent School District’s robust partnership with BPA has turned out to be a cornerstone of the organization’s success, and the basis for a joint effort that has brought sheer joy to thousands of area students through the For Kids programs.
“That’s the part of Boerne Performing Arts that we really want the world to know about,” says Sue Talford. “My husband and I have a real soft spot for kids.” As artistic director, Greg Talford plans each season, works with agents and books the performers for not only the evening performance but also a one-hour matinee version for students, bussing in basically every third- fourth- and fifth-grader each year. This includes students from the same grade levels from Boerne, Comfort and Bandera, along with special needs students from all grades.
As delightful as the shows are (“the kids are just riveted,” says Sue), they’re not just a free pass out of class. Lesson plans are created by BISD music teacher Dawn Adamek for pre-show study. “Afterwards, the students have to write a letter about the show,” explains Sue. “Not just that they liked it, but what they liked about it. It’s amazing what we get back from some of these kids.”
More than 15,000 students have enjoyed BPA’s extensive outreach programs at no cost to the students, which include master classes, art exhibitions and performance interactions.
“These kids get to talk to and have contact with these artists, something that they may have never experienced in their lives,” says Greg Talford, “And that’s priceless.”
It also builds audiences for the future and generates buzz for Boerne’s rising status in the performing arts world. “If you look at our mission statement,” says Sue, “it says ‘Bringing the world of performing arts to Boerne.’ With our international performers and shows, we bring the world to our little community, and in turn it attracts worldwide exposure for us.”
Photo by Linda Rukavina of Rukavina Photography. Seated (L-R): Sandy Mattick, Cathie Meadows, Carol Schultz, Cheryl Ladd-Russell, Kirsten Cohoon Standing (L-R): Mary Colacurci, John Mowrey, Jim Sims, Greg Talford, Kevin Arnott, Sue Talford, Lynn Richter
Boerne Performing Arts 2017 Season
Champion Auditorium, 201 Charger Boulevard, Boerne
Vocalosity :: February 14 – Taking a cappella to a whole new level, this high energy production transforms today’s biggest hits featuring 10-part vocal harmonies, beatbox and hip choreography.
Russian Seasons Dance Company :: Feb. 27 – An exhilarating trip through international folk dances, from the Hopak of Ukraine to the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe to the Spanish Flamenco and Argentinean tango.
Taj Express :: April 7 – Bollywood rules in a dynamic celebration of film, joyful dance and thrilling music that takes audiences on a live cinematic journey through modern Indian culture and society.