David Henry Clark

David Clark, organist and pianist, was Senior Lecturer in the music department and a member of the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education at Avondale College, Australia, for 35 years. He received a B.A., B.Mus., and Dip.Ed. from Melbourne University and an M.A. from Andrews University in the U.S. in 1984. He studied piano with Associate Professor Ronald Farren-Price at MU and with Sandra Camp at AU. Clark has also studied organ with Sergio de Pieri at MU, Martin Neary of Winchester Cathedral in the United Kingdom, David Rumsey at Sydney University, and C. Warren Becker at AU.

Clark began teaching at AC in 1969. He was hired to direct the choral program and teach keyboard and music classes while Alan Thrift was on a study leave in the U.S. During that time, Clark directed the Symphonic Choir, which had been founded by George Greer in the late 1940s, on their final interstate tour in 1971. Their last concert was performed in the Albert Hall at Canberra, the national capital. During that year, the Ladies Choir from within the Symphonic Choir won the Choral Championship at the City of Sydney Eisteddfod.

Upon Thrift's return, Clark continued to teach at AC, lecturing in musicology, orchestration, church music, and French; teaching conducting; and giving lessons in piano and organ. In 1985 he traveled to Japan, where he studied Suzuki pedagogy with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and Dr Haruko Kataoka. On his return, he became founder and Director of the Suzuki Piano Summer Schools at AC and Regional Coordinator of the annual Suzuki Professional Development Conferences, which are still hosted by AC.

When Thrift had returned to AC in 1971, he had resumed leadership of the Symphonic Choir and renamed it the Avondale Singers. Clark continued as piano accompanist and organ soloist with the Avondale Singers on local and interstate tours with Thrift throughout Australia and New Zealand until the latter's retirement in 1990.

During his years at AC, Clark worked and studied abroad on several occasions. In 1972 he was called to the New Gallery, London, as Music Director, organizing its first Concert Series, which featured world-famous concert pianists such as John Ogden and Moura Lympany. He also attended Andrews University, where he completed an MA in music history and literature in 1984.

In 1996 Clark was appointed chair of the music department. In his first year of leadership, working with three former members of the Avondale Community Orchestra, he facilitated the establishment of the first music scholarship at AC as a memorial to Noel Clapham. Clapham, chair of the music program in the 1950s following Greer's departure, had in the late 1980s and 1990s conducted the ACO. Following his death in 1994, inactive ACO funds, plus money raised subsequently by Clark and others, were transferred to the Avondale Foundation in 2005, which now administers the award.

Clark initiated and directed a European music study tour in 1997, which visited Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, London and Cambridge. He directed similar tours to Europe in 2003 and 2005.

When Thrift retired in 1990, he and Clark had worked together for 21 years. This collaboration now resumed in Clark's second year as chair and would continue for seven more years, as Thrift came out of retirement to direct the Singers and assist in piano.

Beginning in 2000, Clark founded and directed the Avondale Chamber Orchestra, which then toured locally and nationally with the Avondale Singers, conducted by Thrift. A highlight for both groups occurred in 2001 when The New England Youth Ensemble and Columbia Collegiate Chorale, conducted by Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse and James Bingham, respectively, joined forces with the AC groups and their conductors for three weeks of touring throughout Australia.

In 2004, when Clark retired and Thrift retired for a second time, they toured together with the Singers and the Chamber Orchestra to New Zealand. It was a memorable and nostalgic trip for both men and their students. They were honored for their long and distinguished service during a farewell concert on graduation weekend.

Although Clark officially retired in 2004, he still works occasionally for the music department and Faculty of Education. In 2006 he was organist with an Australian string orchestra, performing on the historic Nacchini Organ in the church of San Rocco, Venice. The following year, he was organist in a presentation of Brahms' A German Requiem at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, New South Wales.

Clark continues as organist at Avondale College and Avondale Memorial Churches, where he likes to encourage young people to study the organ. Presently, his youngest student is nine years old. Many of his students during his years at AC have pursued graduate studies overseas in organ performance, organ building, piano, and church music.

When not performing or teaching, Clark can be found practicing for another performance, gardening, or training on the road for the next half marathon.


Source: This biography is based primarily on an IAMA biography written jointly by David Clark and Dan Shultz in 2007. Modifications were made in 2008 based on interviews Clark had with Robb Dennis in February 2008, when Dennis worked with Shultz on a project to create a history of music at Avondale College (published in the Winter/Spring 2008 issue of IAMA Notes).