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The Life and Legacy of Director Jeff Clark

Longtime former director Jeff Clark has passed away Tuesday morning.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University, Clark began his show choir directing career at Crete-Monee before later stops at Fairfield and Indian Hill.

Clark was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and was in hospice care at the time of his passing.

During his time at Crete-Monee, Clark led the Cavaliers to numerous successes, with the group only missing finals once across three years. They were second at Mudelein in 2004 and claimed third place and Best Band at the 2003 FAME Show Choir Cup (the precursor to the National Finals). He also did fine work with the womens group, Faces, bringing home several division titles.

From there, he replaced longtime director Daniel Prior at Fairfield, taking over a group that won three competitions the previous season. There was no rebound time, as the Choraliers took two wins during Clark’s first season of direction in 2005. The success continued, with the group taking home at least one win during every season of Clark’s tenure. He brought in a who’s who of choreographers to work with his students, including Randy Sage, Marty DeMott, Stephen Todd and April James. His time at Fairfield concluded with the 2016 season, in which the group finished in the top two four out of five times. The set also wove a complex storyline, combining original music from Ben Wexler with classic show choir hits Flight, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.

During his time at Fairfield, Clark also directed the female group Pure Elegance and the middle school group Rhythm Express. Pure Elegance debuted in 2007 and claimed its first division win and finals appearance only two years later. In 2014, the group made five finals rounds, placing as high as third at Cabell Midland and Lebanon. In the only competition they didn’t make finals, Pure Elegance made a clean sweep of the womens division at Opelika. Rhythm Express was routinely one of the top middle school groups in the country under his watch, placing as high as second overall at Central Crossing in 2010. The group did not lose a middle school division after 2012 and was routinely competing in high school divisions by the time Clark left after 2016.

His final teaching stop was at Indian Hill, just across the Cincinnati metro from Fairfield. While his group Premieres did not compete, Clark still brought in names such as Sage, Dominic Matas and Brooke Smolder to work with the group. Additionally, Clark began to give back to the show choir community by becoming a frequent adjudicator. He judged on many of show choir’s largest stages, including Show Choir Nationals, Heart of America Nashville, Bishop Luers and the FAME National Finals. Additionally, he was just as willing to judge at smaller competitions with lesser-known groups, traveling everywhere from Parkview in Wisconsin to Nitro in West Virginia.

Tributes poured in around Clark’s passing. Costume designer and former Jackson Prep director Dianne Holbert said in a Facebook post that “We competed against Fairfield in Opelika in 2014, our year of the Gatsby show. Fairfield did a Back to the Future show. We were in first going into finals but Fairfield beat us. Jeff was so quick to come to me and tell me that he thought we indeed beat him. Well, it just didn’t matter as my kids and his kids became friends. Jeff and I talked several times after that conferring about musical ideas, shows, etc. We enjoyed visiting at Showchoir Camps of America in the summers. We kept up with each other. That’s what this Showchoir Community has meant to me through the years. True friendships that cross the many miles of this country.”

“We are devastated, with our students, our parents, and our community, at the loss of this passionate educator, who offered our students incredible, unparalleled experiences in the arts,” said Indian Hill School District Superintendent Kirk Koennecke in a district statement.

A celebration of life for Clark will be held at Indian Hill High School from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time on June 8. A GoFundMe to help with end-of-life expenses can be found here.

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