“It’s a kind of cultural diplomacy,” said Clark, who will be traveling under the auspices of the organization American Voices. He will leave for Iraq this Wednesday, June 27 and stay until July 15. “We bring American music and teachers to places where the education system is not its best, due to the country emerging from isolation and conflict.”
Located in a primarily Kurdish region of Iraq, Erbil is the country’s fourth largest city. With a history dating back to 6,000 B.C., it also is one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world. While he’s there, Clark will work with high school students at American Voices’ YES Academy, teaching them composition and music theory.
Clark said that his prospective students already have some musical experience, gained over the past five years thanks to an American Voices program offering training in stringed instruments. His goal is help the students take the next step and begin creating their own compositions. “We’re going to try to get them to write music,” he said.
Clark said he also wants to expose his students to various styles of contemporary American composition, and plans to take plenty of orchestral scores and recordings to share.
Over the last 16 years, American Voices has presented summer youth performing arts academies, workshops, and concerts in more than 110 countries. The organization has offices in St. Louis and Bangkok. Financial support for Clark’s trip is coming from American Voices board member Jeanne Sinquefield and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, which also funds the Mizzou New mUsic Initiative.
Clark just completed a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at Mizzou. In 2011 he won the Sinquefield Composition Prize and was one of eight resident composers selected to participate in the Mizzou New Music Festival. Clark was born in 1967 in St. Louis, grew up in Normandy, and attended Clayton High School. He also holds a Bachelors degree in composition from MU, which he earned studying with Dr. Thomas McKenney.
Clark earned a DMA in composition from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, studying with Arthur Gottschalk and Richard Lavenda. He became a Tanglewood Fellow in 1998, and from 1999 to 2001 studied with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague on a Netherlands-America Foundation Grant. Clark also has worked as a composer; as a writer for Andante.com; and as a teacher in the Netherlands, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, NM.