Carolyn Clark

Carolyn Clark
Staten Island, NY
Instrumental Music, Choral/Vocal Music
K-12 Schools, After School Program, College/University, Community Center, Library
Local 802, American Federation of Musicians, Association of Teaching Artists, Chamber Music America, New Music America, Lifetime Arts

Staten Island Philharmonic, A Helluva Choir, Viva Voce Chamber Ensemble, Music Director--Unitarian Church of Staten Island, Regina Opera Company, Brooklyn, NY, Bronx Symphony, Bronx, NY

VSA Teaching Artist Fellow 2010-2011 One of five teaching artists from throughout the United States selected to receive a year of mentoring and support from Kennedy Center’s Very Special Arts in Washington, D.C. We presented our work at an international conference on arts in special education in Boston and participated as teaching artists in VSA's Start with the Arts Festival at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. A Helluva Choir, Staten Island, NY 2008 - present Music director for 40-member adult chorus whose motto is “Are you breathing? Then join us!” Our big achievements thus far have been recording a song for the TV show "Glee," and performing at Mayor Bloomberg's 2011 State of the City Address. The Hungerford School, Staten Island, NY Spring 2010, Spring 2011 Teaching artist for nonverbal adolescents with developmental disabilities. We created musical instruments--"horns" from garden hoses, and various types of percussion--and performed with them. P.S. 55 and P.S. 56, Staten Island, NY Fall 2010 Teaching artist in an afterschool music theater/science connection program for third graders. We performed a musical about the importance of caring for animals and preserving species, using songs including John Lithgow's "I'm a Manatee" and "Be Human." Eden II School, Staten Island, NY 2007 - present Teaching artist in a music theater program for students with autism, ages 7-18. We have done a number of different musicals and musical reviews, including "Snow White," "Cinderella," and a patriotic-themed program. On Your Mark, Staten Island, NY 2007 - present Teaching artist in a music theater program for people with developmental disabilities, ages 16-65. We have performed several "big" musicals, including Guys and Dolls, Music Man, and Fiddler on the Roof.
I have always appreciated older people. As a child, I was very close to my grandmother. She introduced me to the piano and taught me to cook and sew in such a loving, laughter-filled way that I never felt much of an age gap between us. Then, when my father, at 82, was no longer able to live alone, I cared for him in my home for five years until his death in 2006. It was an incredible education for me in what it means to be an older person fighting against, dealing with, and finally facing the inevitable end of life. It also taught me a great deal about love. As difficult as it was sometimes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. A couple of years later, I saw the film "Young@Heart," about a chorus of senior citizens in Northampton, MA. I saw how singing kept the choir members active and positive, and how it took some of the sadness out of the losses they experienced. I wondered if I could create something similar for people in Staten Island. So I started A Helluva Choir, and it has been an amazing experience. The singers range in age from about 55 to 92, with most in their late 70s/early 80s. The most remarkable thing is--and I realize it's totally anecdotal--that the choir has been together for three years, and no one has died. My guess is that is quite unusual for a group of 30-40 people that age. I know it will happen eventually, but I honestly think that singing has helped keep these folks healthy. Anyhow, I would like to continue bringing the joy of learning, the strength of social connections, and the power of music to older people in any way I can. I play piano well enough to run a chorus singlehandedly, though it would be ideal to work together with another teaching artist who could sing along and lead the other singers.