UR VERY OWN contributor has been appointed to one of America’s most prominent sacred music positions! Richard J. Clark has been named DIRECTOR OF MUSIC of the Archdiocese of Boston and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
One of the most sought after liturgical musicians and composers, it is no wonder Richard has been asked to lead music for the fourth largest Archdiocese in the United States. A dedicated servant of the church, Clark’s compositions range from humble settings (for simple parishes) to works performed by the finest choir and musicians in the world. In addition to being a husband and father, he maintains a pretty nifty website.
In some ways, his path to becoming a church musician was unlikely. At age nine, my understanding is that he declared, “being a church musicians has to be the lowest musical aspiration possible.” Instead of beginning studies at a conservatory, be began at Berklee College of Music. Interestingly, it was there he discovered composition in the styles of J. S. Bach and Palestrina. Somewhat late in life he began playing the organ—not until his early twenties. Yet, he fell in love with the instrument so instantly, he quickly become one of Boston’s most notable organists, performing in the Boston Symphony Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York), Saint-Eustache (Paris), and so forth.
Richard is at ease with a vast array of musical styles; from Gregorian Chant to classical to jazz and pop. This eclectic background informs his unique voice as a composer. Always filtered through the prism of reverence and prayer, any influence Clark draws from results in a work surging with emotion and spirit. Perhaps most importantly, Richard’s experience of working in parishes for decades makes him eminently qualified to guide an archdiocese. While he is devoted to and respects the traditional music of the Church, Richard’s hand in many musical styles affords him the ability to see multiple points of view. He has had a gift for unifying musicians and people (no mater how diverse) in prayer through sacred music. By the way, several of Richard’s hymn settings were chosen to be in the Brébeuf hymnal, and they’re absolutely marvelous—I think people will really enjoy them.
Never doubt one thing: Richard is a man of INTEGRITY. 1
I was blessed to make his acquaintance through a mutual friend, Edmund G. Murray (who is also a phenomenal church musician). About half a decade ago, I served on the faculty of the CMAA Colloquium, and we both ended up stranded in the same airport for a few hours. We had a wonderful talk, and I’m happy to say we’ve been friends ever since. In light of this sensational appointment, wherein he’s now the musical leader of the Archdiocese of Boston, I can only say one thing: “Please don’t forget the little people, Richard!”
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 How many people can you say that about these days? Honestly?