The Southside Philharmonic Orchestra is an orchestra right here in Jefferson City, MO! This orchestra was founded by Artistic Director, Patrick D. Clark. The mission for this orchestra is to assemble some of the region’s finest musicians to present high-quality performances of classical music to promote and enhance our local musical community, contribute to the revitalization of Jefferson City’s historic Southside/Munichburg district, and to strengthen the cultural fabric of Central Missouri. SPO is a community arts outreach program within the Central United Church of Christ in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Check out Patrick’s answers below as to how and why he started up this amazing musical ensemble!
Q. What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A. Being born at all…
Our collaboration on the Nutcracker ballet with choreographer Katy Howland and Dancers’ Alley dance studio two years in a row has allowed us to play for audiences that are several times as large as we would have dreamed possible. Being accorded the confidence by all of our dedicated musicians and collaborators that we have something special to offer is something that we don’t take for granted. Partnerships are a kind of tacit contract of the highest order—promises are tested and the most reliable of people emerge from them. Good partners allow each other to make mistakes, but they do not allow each other to break their word. SPO’s success with Dancers’ Alley, Vox Nova (Columbia-based premiere vocal ensemble), the Central United Church of Christ (SPO’s home and beneficent supporter), and all of SPO’s sponsors (I would love to name every one but it is too much space here!), has greatly increased my appreciation for the people in Jefferson City—SPO’s connection to the community is our most significant accomplishment!
Q. What made you want to start this Southside Philharmonic Orchestra?
A. There are many kinds of music that interest me. Even within the general world of “classical music,” there are very special things that are not commonly performed. Two programs that SPO has presented are particular favorites of mine: the “Modernism” program and the “Early Italian Baroque” program. The latter will be performed again on March 22nd at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in downtown Jefferson City—a space that has a mystical acoustic within the sanctuary. With SPO, I am able to put the right people on the right music in the right spaces. Many ensembles that I conduct have long-established structures that don’t allow the flexibility that SPO has—SPO has no long history to burden its capacity to adjust immediately to new possibilities—I can do anything with SPO, and I plan to!
Q. Who are your mentors?
A. My “mentors” are simply the people who generously give me some of their time and allow me to learn from them. Sometimes my mentors are participants in my projects and sometimes they just offer advice that, like a seed, bears fruit only after I’ve planted it. My mentors probably don’t know who they are, but I know I couldn’t do what I’m doing without them. I believe that time and trust are the most valuable commodities that one person can offer another. One of my favorite quotes comes from a song by Bob Dylan (Dear Landlord): “Everyone has their own special gift…and if you don’t underestimate me, I won’t underestimate you.” I have found that this maxim guides me continuously in the right direction. I choose my closest friends, colleagues, and mentors based strictly on this principle.
Q. What are you most thankful for when it comes to your organization?
A. The people who support me!!! It is impossible to name everyone, but I am going to mention a short list of those people who give me time and help when I most need it (this often means late night phone calls, after-rehearsal meetings at restaurants (when I need them most!), and immediate turn-around on emergency “I-need-your-help, and-I-need-it now” favors): Gary Sanders (Jefferson City’s hidden treasure—a incomparable virtuoso pianist and a man of tremendous generosity), Julie Schroeder (a model of community involvement even if she won’t admit it), Susan Ferber (an artist with patience that Buddha would envy). These are SPO board members that “leave the ringer on” for me—what would we do without people like these in our lives?
Q. Are there any other organizations you volunteer your time to?
A. Yes, but not nearly as much as I would like. 2019 is my year to change that. I volunteer for Old Munichburg’s Octoberfest, the public school’s speech and debate tournaments, various music contests, and helping young musicians prepare for competitions. Far more important than strictly focusing on my own projects, I find that giving time to others’ projects ends up helping my own in some subtle or direct manner anyway—volunteering is far from wasted time, even for the busiest of people. Without those truly noble, generous, and really selfless people that help me with SPO (the SPO board for example), I would not have been able to accomplish what I have, and I fully intend to give back now that I’ve learned how this actually works!
Q. What is the most challenging part of running your organization?
A. Getting 30-50 musicians to agree to be in one place at the same time!
Q. Do you have any goals for your organization in the near future? If so, what are they?
A. I have been in discussions with Mitchell Woodrum at Capitol Cinema about the possibility of SPO playing scores for silent films, both in the theater and at outdoor summer events. My partnership with the Columbia Jazz Orchestra (COJO) and SPO collaborator, Todd Yatsook, is going to allow this idea to potentially happen this summer. I am hoping that SPO is going to break the mold of what an orchestra in a city the size of Jefferson City can be. The idea is to show that it is possible to find audiences and venues that are not typically associated with “classical music”; perhaps, in part, to remind everyone (including ourselves) that some of the most well-known music today is disseminated through film (e.g. Star Wars), and that Beethoven and Duke Ellington are not as distant from each other as we might conveniently assume.
Q. How do you network with other people?
A. I have networked for SPO by the oldest method known: walking right up to someone I don’t know and beginning a conversation. This might be a challenge for anyone, but it has certainly been one for me. What I’ve found is that most people are receptive to this and it is surprising what can occasionally come of it. Only the other day I walked into High Handsome on High St. to put a jacket on consignment and left with plans to make a soundtrack for a film and work on an SPO video project with James Jarvis (HH manager)—things I never would have imagined. Before I began approaching people in the community about SPO, I would never have had the types of conversations that I now find essential to just being a complete person—a true member of a community.
Q. Who is your hero?
A. Martin Luther King Jr. Courage.
Q. How do you get motivated?
A. Recently, I walked into Central Bank and found myself in conversation with Clay Broughton (CB’s Director of Marketing). He began to tell me about Tom Wolfe’s novel, The Right Stuff. In the book, the great pilot, Chuck Yeager, says (I’m paraphrasing), people get true heroes mixed up with people who are only marketed and packaged for the role; true heroes are the ones who get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other. They just get the job done—they’re not going to be defeated. I learned more about what I was doing than in any other 20 minutes in my life. I forgot completely about why I was there in the first place, but I left knowing I’d succeeded in finding what I was looking for. The great book of wisdom, Tao te ching, is my other motivator, and it says essentially the exact same thing.
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