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Sondra Clark   


**Sigma Alpha Iota Friend of the Arts



Sondra ClarkDr. Sondra Clark is a graduate of The Juilliard School in New York City; San Jose State University, where she received a Master's Degree and an Outstanding Music Student Award; and Stanford University, where she completed her Ph.D. on an Ella Moore Shiels Fellowship for Academic Excellence. Further studies have included courses at Queens College in New York City and the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria, University of California at Berkeley and Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. Her composition teachers have included Vincent Persichetti, Norman Lloyd, Hall Overton, Leland Smith, Leonard Ratner, and George Perle. She has participated in master classes and seminars with Darius Milhaud, Lou Harrison, Dane Rudhyar, Aaron Copland, John Cage, and Gyorgy Ligeti.

Dr. Clark was a member of the San Jose State University Music Faculty for twelve years, during which her teaching assignments including music theory, music history, advanced piano, and keyboard harmony. For eight years, she served in the Graduate Department as a Master's Thesis Advisor, teaching graduate music history, bibliography, musicology, and thesis writing. She has also had guest lectureships at several California colleges, The Juilliard School, and Stanford University. A private music teacher for forty years, Clark composed and published "Piano Pleasure," an accelerated method which is used in schools and other teaching studios. She also has numerous prize-winning pupils in piano and composition to her credit.

A frequently requested clinician and lecturer, Clark was chosen to lecture on composing at the 1994 State Convention of the California Music Teachers, where her guide for beginning composers, "The Joy of Creating Music," was a featured work. Her newest prize-winning work will be published by the Neil A. Kjos Co. and premiered in April, 1998, at the Music Teachers National Convention in Nashville, TN, by the famed piano duo, Weekley and Arganbright.

Sondra Clark is an internationally recognized specialist on the music of Charles Ives, and she has produced and performed in many concerts featuring her own works as well as those of other twentieth-century American composers. A long-time music critic for San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, her syndicated by-lines have appeared throughout Northern California, and her writing posts have included music editor of the Oakland Tribune and contributor to the San Francisco Examiner, American Heritage, Clavier, and The Musical Quarterly. During 1973 and 1974, she was annotator for the San Jose Symphony in San Jose, CA. She has written six books, a screenplay, and a software manual.

Since retiring a few years ago from university teaching and music criticism, Sondra Clark has devoted herself to composing full time, and since 1990, nine of her compositions have won awards. For five years she has won First Prize in the California State Composers Today Competition. She is now an active member of the National Association for Composers and ASCAP. Her works are performed internationally and have received unanimously enthusiastic response: Phillip George (reviewer for Twentieth Century Music) described Clark's "Three AmericanScenes" as "neo-Copland" and "toe-tapping, rousing, and very catchy." Richard Freed (reviewer for Stereo Review) called "Seasons of Love" for piano trio and soprano "powerful, effective stuff -- so beautifully judged in its proportions, without a single, superfluous gesture, and no hint of excess in the handling of emotion."

Clark's critically acclaimed "Requiem for Lost Children," written for the Kevin Collins Foundation for Missing Children, was premiered in November, 1996, in San Jose, CA and in Los Altos, CA by the San Jose Symphonic Choir and Orchestra. Scored for three soloists, mixedchoir, children's choir, and orchestra, the work was described by Paul Hertelendy (reviewer for San Jose Mercury News) as "a deeply stirring ... powerful amalgam of the old and the new, as revolutionary in its approach as the requierns of Johannes Brahms and Benjamin Britten were in their days." In October, 1996, Foothill College in Mountain View, CA produced a television video on Clark and her music, to air on public television stations. She is currently working with multiple grants on her next extended project, an opera for television that will incorporate musical elements from her Native American heritage.

Of California Mission Indian descent, Sondra Clark grew up on government Indian Schools in the Dakotas. After a move to Wisconsin in her early teens, her musical talent was recognized, and she began winning awards for her piano performances and playing in concerts and on television throughout the Midwest. At the age of fourteen, she was producing and performing her own weekly radio show. As a high school freshman, she published her first article and won a state essay contest. Based on her 10 scores and overall academic achievement, her high school faculty recommended allowing her to skip a grade and graduate early.

Sondra Clark lives in Los Altos, CA with her husband of thirty-seven years, Gordon Clark, a retired computer specialist. Her brother is Fritz Scholder, a noted Indian artist.


Contact Information

497 Lassen Street
Los Altos, CA 94022

Annual Updates




Sondra Clark reports: “At the beginning of 2014, I found it necessary to take a leave from my work in order to care for my beloved husband of 55 years, who is very ill. Although I have not had the time to produce, play or promote my music, I am blessed with wonderful musician friends and fans who gladden my heart with reports of faraway performances of my music. And the few times I’ve been persuaded to perform my music in a concert, the experience never failed to be uplifting and therapeutic -- music is truly ‘the best medicine!’ ”


Favorite Carols for Two, for piano, four hands, Kardontchik/Clark Piano Duo, S.A.I. Holiday Musicale, Glenn Rouse Hall, Los Gatos, CA, Dec 2013. Key Lime Sunset and Pentatempo Waltz, Libby Kardontchik, piano, Unitarian Church, Palo Alto, CA, Dec. 2013. Florida Fantasy, Kardontchik/Clark Duo, National Assoc. of Composers, USA Series, Lucie Stern Ballroom, Palo Alto, Ca, Feb. 2014. Three American Scenes and Florida Fantasy Suite, Kardontchik/Clark Duo, S.A.I. Annual Public Musicale, The Forum Concert Hall, Cupertino, CA, April, 2014; also, Florida Fantasy Suite, Kardontchik/Clark Duo, Palo Alto Two-Piano Club Annual Concert, Lucie Stern Ballroom, Palo Alto, CA, May 2014.


Brasilia Beguine, two pianos, eight hands, Commissioned by Gwendolyn Mok for finale of “PianoMania,” The San Jose State University Piano Quartet, CSUSJ Concert Hall, San Jose, CA, Oct. 2013. Homage to George Gershwin, string quartet, written for The Sorella String Quartet, National Assoc. of Composers Series, Foothill Congregational Church, Los Altos, CA, June 2014.




Especially in 2012 I’ve discovered that my music is being performed in far more countries around the world than I personally have visited, and I feel so lucky to have fabulous musicians here, at home, as well as abroad, who champion my music. In my series of articles written for The California Music Teacher, I try to encourage composers to write, giving more thought to engaging their players and audiences. In 2011 and 2012, I’ve been taking more time to perform my works for piano duo, and I’m positive this sharing experience has made me a more effective composer.


Caribbean Dances, Kardontchik/Clark Piano Duo, National Assoc. of Composers Series, Covenant Church, Palo Alto, CA, February, 2012. Three Forecasts, Kardontchik/Clark Duo, Riding the Rogue River and Rafting the Rainforest, Rocklin/Chang Duo, Palo Alto Two Piano Club concert, Stanford, CA, April ,2012. Two California Treasures, Delphi Trio, National Assoc. of Composers Series, Covenant Church, Palo Alto, CA, June, 2012.


Angel Falls, Lam/Kai Duo, U.S. Open Music Competition Winner’s concert, Oakland, CA February, 2012. Nora’s Waltz, Kharahanyan/Gejdmane Duo, Opening Concert of the 2012 International Piano Competition in Riga, Latvia, April, 2012. Caribbean Dances, Kardontchik/Clark Piano Duo, National Assoc. of Composers, Foothill Presbyterian Church Series, San Jose, CA, April, 2012. Latin American Dances, Kardontchik/Clark Duo, Cribari Hall Benefit Concert, San Jose, November, 2012. Three California Landscapes, Paul Rosas, organ, Carolyn Lamcke, piano, Annual Alzheimer’s Benefit Concert, United Methodist Church, Los Altos, CA, November, 2012.


Angel Falls for piano, four hands was selected for inclusion in Hal Leonard’s new Piano Recital Showcase - Duet Favorites. Listening to Your Creative Voice, Parts 2, 3, 4, The California Music Teacher, Vol.35-2, 3, Vol. 36-1.




Winner of the 2nd Prize, Professional Level, for Nora’s Waltz for piano, four hands, 2011 Composers Today Contest. Last fall I began writing articles on composition for The California Music Teacher which talked about how developing a two-way relationship with your inner, creative musical voice by regularly composing music is a necessary step for all musicians in achieving your highest artistic potential. My articles presented formulas designed to help musicians, teachers and students rise above the curious notion that there’s a basic difference in the inspirational process of creating music by performing it and creating music by composing it.


Scenes from New Orleans (two pianos, eight hands) by the Fabulous Four
Piano Quartet Spring Concert at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, CA, March 2011. Danza Cubana (harp, flute, cello), Dan Levitan Trio, Winter National Assoc. of Composers concert, Convenant Church, Palo Alto, CA, June 2011. Latin American Dances and Angel Falls (piano, four hands), Kardontchik-Clark Duo, Fortnightly Club Concert, Lucie Stern Center, Palo Alto, CA, Sept. 2011.


South American Dances (two pianos, eight hands), The Fabulous Four, Cribari Hall, San Jose, CA, Oct. 2010. Postcards from Yosemite (wind quintet), Avenue Winds, Martin Hall, Menlo College, Menlo Park, CA, Nov. 2010. American Rhapsody and Nora’s Waltz, Kardontchik-Rocklin Piano Duo, Winter National Assoc. of Composers concert, Covenant Church, Palo Alto, CA, Feb. 2011. Three Scenes from New Orleans by the Phung-Jiang Piano Duo, 2011 MTAC Convention, Oakland, CA, June 2011. Nora’s Waltz, Price-Kardontchik Piano Duo, Composers Today Contest, Winners’ Concert, Oakland, CA, Civic Center, July 2011.


“Why and How I Began Teaching Piano by Teaching Composing First,” Fall 2010 – 2011 issues, The California Music Teacher, Vol.34.  “Listening to Your Creative Voice,” The California Music Teacher, Vol. 35-1.



I am even more convinced that music is truly a collaboration between the composer and performer, and it is only through the love and genius of its performers that a composer’s music finds its life.


Celebration Suite (commissioned for 8 pianists) at the Monster Piano Festival at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA on 1/10.  Two Scenes from New Orleans by the Mission Chamber Orchestra at St.  Mark’s Church in Palo Alto, CA on 5/10.  White Water Suite by the Duo Pianistico di Firenze at the Kurosawa International Music Festival in Saratoga, CA in 6/10.  Nora’s Waltz by the Ruslan and Raffi Duo at the San Francisco International Music Festival in 7/10.  American Rhapsody at the 2010 Music Teachers Association of CA Centennial Convention in Los Angeles, CA on 7/4/10.


South American Dances (two pianos, eight hands) by the Fabulous Four at the Congregational Church of San Mateo, CA on 2/10.  Scenes from New Orleans by the South Bay Brass Ensemble at Cribari Hall in San Jose, CA on 5/10.  White Water Suite by the Duo Pianistico di Firenze in Pistoia, Italy on 6/10.  Muir Woods for organ and piano by the Welch-Hancock Duo at the 2010 OK Mozart Festival in Bartlesville, OK on 6/10.  American Rhapsody by the Bradshaw Duo for the Music of Monterey County series concert in Carmel Valley, CA on 10/10.




The composer writes, “As a contributing composer for the Kurosawa Piano Music Foundation (KPMF), I’ve been having a ball writing piano ensemble music for the various concerts KPMF has presented in 2009, most of which include young piano duos as well as world-class artists. Now I’m looking forward to having several pieces performed for multiple pianos in our First Silicon Valley Piano Monster Concert in January 2010.” Clark received her eighth consecutive ASCAP award in 2009. Two works for piano, four hands, Petite Suite and Bridal Veil Falls, won prizes in the pedagogy division and in the professional advanced division, and received premieres in the Composers Today Contest Concert at the MTAC State Convention in Santa Clara, CA.


Golden Gate Rhapsody, for piano trio, was introduced by the Composers Performance Ensemble in November 2008 at a National Association of Composers concert, Palo Alto (CA) Arts Center. The Kugimoto Duo presented Angel Falls for piano duo in February 2009 in Tokyo, Japan. The commissioned work South American Dances for two pianos, eight hands, was first heard in May during a Chamber Music Extravaganza by KPMF and the San Jose (CA) Youth Symphony, at the Center for Performing Arts in Mountain View, CA. Postcards from Yosemite for wind quintet received its premiere in Portola Valley, CA, by The Avenue Winds, while South American Dances for piano duo received its premiere from the Oleyuria Duo in June 2009, Odessa, Ukraine.


Still Waters, suite for viola and piano, was performed by Noriko Iwamoto and Chin Beckmann in October 2008 for the San Francisco (CA) Peninsula Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae Chapter Musicale, Los Altos Hills, CA; the suite was also performed in October for a Fortnightly Music Club performance and in March 2009 for a NACUSA concert at the Palo Alto Arts Center. Three Odd Meters, Miami Mambo, and South American Dances, all for piano, four hands, were performed in a December 2008 concert featuring the composer’s works at the Santa Rosa (CA) College. Bridal Veil Falls was performed by the Lu Piano Duo as part of the Second Kurosawa Piano Festival in January 2009 at San Jose State University. In March, the San Jose Symphonic Choir, Mission Chamber Orchestra, and Cantabile Children’s Choir performed Requiem for Lost Children at the St. Joseph Cathedral in San Jose, CA, while in May, the Mission Chamber Orchestra performed Homage to George Gershwin at Le Petite Trianon in San Jose, CA.


Florida Fantasy Suite, a set of three movements for piano four-hands; by Hal Leonard.



The composer writes, “I think I also said this last year, but so far, 2008 has been my busiest year to date.  Although it might not seem so by my following listing of premieres, my current musical passion has become piano ensemble music, mainly because of my involvement in the newly formed Kurosawa Piano Music Foundation, which has presented four concerts and a Silicon Valley Duo Piano Festival, since January 2008.”


That Time of Year, for soprano, violin and piano, received its premiere November 2007 at a National Association of Composers concert, Palo Alto (CA) Arts Center. The commissioned work Still Waters for viola and piano was introduced in February 2008 at Boston (MA) University, and then given a West Coast premiere by violist Noriko Iwamoto and pianist Chin Beckmann at a Providence Day concert in September, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA.  The South Brass Ensemble presented Scenes from New Orleans, for brass ensemble, in June, Palo Alto (CA) Arts Center.


The Clark-Rocklin Piano Duo presented Three American Scenes, Florida Fantasy Suite, and Waterfalls in October 2007 for the San Francisco Peninsula Sigma Alpha Iota Alumnae Chapter Musicale, Portola Valley, CA; the program was repeated in November for the East Bay Alumnae Chapter Musicale in Alamo, CA. Also in November, Three Sierras Scenes for piano trio was presented in the Fortnightly Music Club’s Centennial Concert at the Palo Alto Arts Center. James Welch and Paul Rosas performed Three Northern California Landscapes for organ and piano in February 2008, United Methodist Church, Los Altos, CA. Three Odd Meters and Key Lime Sunset were performed in a Kurosawa Foundation Duo Piano Concert at Tateuchi Hall in Mountain View, CA in May and July, while Three Odd Meters and Angel Falls were performed in various concerts, including a master class devoted to the composer’s music, at the July 2008 Silicon Valley Duo Piano Festival, and at Le Petit Trianon in San Jose, CA.


Angel Falls, piano four-hands; Hal Leonard Corp.


Homage to George Gershwin for orchestra, Kiev Philharmonic; ERM Media.

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