Former UK Director of School of Music, Bands Wins KMEA Award

Published: Mar 14, 2012


LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 14, 2012) − What started out as a one-year job as acting director of bands for the University of Kentucky led to an unprecedented 21 years in the position, 14 years as director of the School of Music and a total 46 years at the university for William Harry Clarke. On top of making a lasting mark on the history of UK Bands and UK School of Music, Clarke has made a mark in the music profession in general. The recently retired UK faculty member is this year's recipient of the Distinguished Service Award presented by the Kentucky Music Education Association (KMEA) for his dedication to music education.


The KMEA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has shown outstanding leadership service to KMEA and to music education. The award is KMEA's highest honor. Clarke received the honor at this year's KMEA In-Service Conference held in February in Louisville, Ky.

Clarke was not only chosen to receive this award for his musical expertise but also for his ability to impact others.


"Many of the nomination letters particularly recognized Clarke's role in teacher training, and the curricular innovations he introduced," said David Dunevant, KMEA president, who chaired the award selection committee. "His personal qualities and role as a mentor were also often mentioned, and he has influenced thousands of music educators over the span of his teaching and administrative career. His chairmanship of the future directions committee and strategic planning committee were the contributions that will leave a permanent mark on the association."


Before serving UK School of Music as director of bands, Clarke became UK’s first band teaching assistant in 1965 while working on a doctoral degree in music education under the nationally respected music educator Paul Lehman. He later was asked to assume the position of acting director of bands at UK as a one-year position. That one year turned into 21 years leading UK Bands. From 1989 to 2003, Clarke also served as the director of the School of Music, during which period the school saw accelerated growth in numbers and in prestigious reputation. He retired from UK in December 2011.


Last fall, the UK Alumni Band honored Clarke, director emeritus of the Wildcat Marching Band (WMB), for helping bring national attention to WMB for its innovative shows and high level of performance. The recognition was part of Alumni Band Weekend 2011.


Clarke's band career started when he was a sophomore in college and became the first band director of a high school in Cleveland, Miss. A year later he became band director of a larger high school. After graduating college in three years with a bachelor's degree from Delta State University (DSU), Clarke was named band director of one of Mississippi's most outstanding bands. Clarke’s alma mater, later honored Clarke as its first inductee in the DSU Music Hall of Fame.


Before arriving at UK, Clarke earned his master's degree at Peabody College (Vanderbilt University) and served as an assistant director of the Vanderbilt Marching Band, as well as director of the Model Laboratory Band and a coordinator of student teachers for Eastern Kentucky University.  


KMEA is a nonprofit organization consisting of more than 2,000 professional music educators at all levels from kindergarten to the university level who are dedicated to the cause of music education in Kentucky. Included are in-service, pre-service and retired music educators. Associated with MENC (National Association for Music Education), KMEA serves as a voice for the Commonwealth's music educators.


The UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, and theory and music history.



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