Jordan College of Fine Arts
School of Music

Richard Auldon Clark - Professor of conducting, violin and viola

Profile Clark

Richard Auldon Clark knows classical music, sure. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music under Raphael Bronstein (violin) and Lillian Fuchs (viola), and he founded the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra. But the associate professor of music and conductor of the Butler Symphony Orchestra also has credits that include performing in Broadway orchestras (Annie Get Your Gun and Ragtime), on "Saturday Night Live" with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and on Aerosmith's hit song "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." He also collaborates with Kurt Vonnegut on setting recordings of the author's books to music.

"I believe you have to live in the whole world of music," Clark says. "You have to understand jazz and rock and pop as well as the great symphonic writings. If you don't teach it that way, you limit a person's possibilities. If you don't teach your students the commercial side of the business, you're sending them out into a firing squad."

Clark grew up in Apalachin, N.Y., and started playing violin at nine. Viola soon followed, as did piano and some voice work. Then trumpet.

"I was absolutely horrible," he says, "but just being a string player wasn't good enough as far as having the authority to stand in front of a group and lead them and talk with knowledge about all the different instruments."

He left upstate New York as soon as he was old enough for Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. He taught at New York's Ethical Culture Schools and continues to work with the MCO and as a freelance musician.

Encouraged by colleagues to consider Butler, Clark came to Indianapolis and found himself "invigorated." He joined the faculty in 2003.

"I've always had a deep, deep respect for the art of teaching," he says. "When all is said and done, there are thousands of violinists out there, there are great conductors but when you take somebody who wants to commit themselves to their students and who can really change a life and develop a career, it's a lot more productive."