graduate Patrick David Clark will leave St. Louis on Wednesday to teach music composition to high school students in Iraq.
"It's really a cultural exchange, it's not a one way thing," said Clark, who holds a master's in orchestral conducting from the University of Missouri (MU). He expects to learn a lot about Iraqi and Kurdish culture during his visit, and he hopes to present what he knows as an American composer.
(Hear samples of Clark's music online.)
He will teach until July 15 in Erbil—the country's fourth-largest city—as part of American Voices, according to a news release. For 16 years, the organization has presented summer arts education and programming throughout the world. He will work at American Voices' YES Academy.
American Voices board member Jeanne Sinquefield asked him to consider making the trip. She sponsors a program at MU called the Creating Original Music Project (COMP), and she hopes to start an equivalent program overseas. American Voices founder Josh Ferguson and the organization's main strings teacher, Marc Thayer, also helped coordinate the trip.
Planning began in late February, and Clark received confirmation in April that he would be visiting Iraq. It will be the farthest east he has traveled; he previously lived in Amsterdam and The Hague.
During his time in Iraq, Clark will share orchestral scores and recordings with students. Many of them have received American Voices training in stringed instruments. He will provide instruction in music theory; music history from 1200 A.D. to the present; composition; and conducting.
His composition students will write a new arrangement of a traditional Iraqi folk song or write a new piece to be performed in a public concert at the end of the program.
Last year, for the prestigious distinction of resident composer for the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival.
This year, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra has commissioned him to write a fanfare for its opening concert in October. It is in part a celebration of the symphony's new music director, Alastair Willis.