It will be a bittersweet feeling to direct his final choral concert at Missouri Southern State University, but it helps that Charles “Bud” Clark has sunny skies, beautiful beaches and a new job waiting for him.
Clark, the director of choral activities at Missouri Southern, will direct Southern Exposure, the Chamber Choir and the Concert Chorale in a concert set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Taylor Performing Arts Center.
After spending 18 years teaching music in public schools, Clark came to Missouri Southern 21 years ago.
“It’s been a wonderful 21 years, and I’ve had the chance to work with some really talented students,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure.”
After retiring at the end of the spring semester, Clark and his wife, Christy, will move to Hawaii.
“I’ve directed a high school honor choir in Hawaii every summer for the last few years, and I hate coming back,” he said. “So I talked to my wife and said, ‘When I retire, let’s come back here and live.’”
Clark said that he’s got a part-time job lined up as the director of music at a Christian church located on the island of Oahu. Christy, who is currently the choral director at Neosho High School, is applying to teach music at schools there, he said.
“The time just seemed right” for retirement,” he said. “You want to leave teaching while you still feel good about it and while you’ve got good health.”
For his final concert, Clark said that he wanted to do something special É but also something very different than anything he had done before.
The three choirs will perform, but then join together after an intermission to present “A Field of Gold,” a mini-musical set before the Civil War. Members of the choirs will be dressed in period clothing, and the music selections will begin on an upbeat note.
“I’ll be the narrator, playing the mayor of this fictitious town,” said Clark. “I’ll talk about the importance of family and friendships in the community. There will be a lot of folktunes and upbeat songs until we have to talk about having to go off to war.”
The music will then change to sad, Civil War-era ballads that were penned during that time period, but will shift back to a more celebratory tone to represent when the war came to an end.
At the close of the concert, the choirs will perform “God Be in My Head,” a song that Clark said his choir students have traditionally used as a warm-up song backstage before a performance. Choir alumni will be encouraged to join in for the final selection.
“We’re asking people to join us that have sung with the choirs in years past,” said Clark. “I felt it would be a nice way to round out the show.”
Though candidates to take over as choral director at Missouri Southern are still being interviewed, they’ll not only have big shoes to fill but possibly a big crown as well.
For the last two decades, King Budward has reigned over Clarkshire Castle for the biennial Madrigal Dinner Feast. Many peasants have dined under Budward’s watchful eye, and some have even wound up in the stocks for showing rudeness toward their king.
Clark said he doesn’t know if his successor will take up his crown for the unique production that was offered by the music department.
“You’ve got to have personality and some guts to do that,” he said with a laugh. “I’m hoping whoever it is will continue it.”