MIZZOU Alumni Magazine Recognizes Sinquefield Composition Prize and Talks with 2011 Winner Patrick Clark
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Conducting and composing
For Patrick Clark, winning the 2011 Sinquefield Composition Prize led to two big boosts for his musical career: the chance to compose an original score for the University Philharmonic and to conduct the orchestral performance.
Since 2006, the Sinquefield Composition Prize has selected an MU student to write a piece that is performed at the annual Chancellor’s Concert. Typically, the winner, who receives a scholarship and cash prize, works with the ensemble’s conductor. But because Clark, BM ’91, is a graduate student in orchestral conducting, he was asked to lead the ensemble’s performance. The dual roles led to unique experiences and challenges for Clark.
“I found out it might be easier to conduct someone else’s piece rather than your own,” Clark says. “During rehearsal, I was much less likely to address the orchestra if they needed to play with more accuracy. Instead, I went home and looked at the score to make sure I had written it correctly.”
Clark began writing the piece in late October 2010, when he learned that he had won the competition. He spent winter break composing from morning to night — though he says he didn’t mind.
“As long as I could make sure my electricity bill is paid, all I’d do is write music,” he says. “I’ve written one other full orchestra piece, but it always feels like the first time. Everything you think you know seems to go away in a cloud.”
In late January 2011, Clark finished his nine-minute piece, which was inspired by Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. He picked out themes from the late Russian composer’s work and interpreted them using his own contemporary American style. Clark’s piece debuted at the Chancellor’s Concert in March 2011 and a professional recording was made in April 2011.
This summer, Clark will continue honing his dual skill set as a resident composer for the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival, July 11–16. Visit newmusicsummerfestival.missouri.edu for a schedule of events.