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A tribute to beloved bandmaster Dr. William (Bill) Clark

Dr. Bill Clark (June 29, 2017)
Leora Zeitlin
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Dr. Clark in the KRWG studios in June 2017, with scores by John Philip Sousa and Aaron Copland

One of the most admired and influential musicians of Las Cruces, Dr. William Clark, died in Las Cruces on July 31st at the age of 84. He often said he only had three jobs in his long career: as a high school band teacher starting at age 20, in Arkansas, followed by teaching at Delta State University – where he quintupled the number of music majors from 30 to 150. And then in 1985, he came to New Mexico State University to become Director of Bands and later, Department Chair, where he doubled the number of majors to more than 200. He founded the Mesilla Valley Concert Band in 1987 and conducted more than 220 free concerts to more than 150,000 happy audience members over the course of three decades.

KRWG host Leora Zeitlin started interviewing Dr. Clark soon after she created and began hosting her program, “Intermezzo,” in 2000. He was an enthusiastic friend of KRWG who also came to help out twice a year during pledge drives, and continued doing so on Zoom during the pandemic. In this tribute, Zeitlin includes clips from several of their interviews over the years and also a quote from tuba professor Jim Shearer, who first met Dr. Clark at the age of 14.

The band music at the end of the tribute is a clip of Dr. Clark conducting the Mesilla Valley Concert Band in “The Pathfinder of Panama,” by John Philip Sousa, in a concert from the 2005-2006 season.

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