Barbara Jean Clark | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Barbara Jean Clark

Barbara Jean Clark (b Woodcock). Choral conductor, teacher, singer, b Napanee, Ont, 9 Nov 1937; BA (Carleton) 1971, ARCT voice (Royal Conservatory of Music) 1973, hon LLD (Carleton) 2006.

Clark, Barbara Jean

Barbara Jean Clark (b Woodcock). Choral conductor, teacher, singer, b Napanee, Ont, 9 Nov 1937; BA (Carleton) 1971, ARCT voice (Royal Conservatory of Music) 1973, hon LLD (Carleton) 2006. Raised in Peterborough, Ont, Clark learned piano and theory first from Mary Harstone and later from Lillian Forsyth in Ottawa. Clark began demonstrating her musical leadership at Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School as an executive member of the Choral Club, by directing assemblies, and as the assembly and choir pianist. After being granted a teacher's certificate from Peterborough Teacher's College in 1956, she taught at the Prince of Wales School until 1959, when she moved to Ottawa.

Clark began her career first as a chorister at Trinity United Church in Peterborough, later in Ottawa as alto soloist at Knox Presbyterian Church (1959-82), and chorister for both the Cantata Singers (1965-92) and the National Arts Centre Opera Chorus (1973-85). She taught music at Ottawa's Queen Elizabeth School 1960-5, and was promoted to music consultant for the Ottawa Board of Education (OBE) in 1965. From 1979 to 2002, she was conductor of the OBE's Central Chamber Choir, and in 1982 she founded the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir. Clark toured extensively in Canada, the US, and Europe with both choirs and prepared them for performances with the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, and conductors Pinchas Zukerman and Trevor Pinnock, among others.

Clark is a strong advocate for Canadian music and has premiered works by such composers as R. Murray Schafer, Robert Rosen, Oscar Peterson, Ruth Watson Henderson, and Nancy Telfer. Clark has conducted at many civic and national events, notably at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa and at the inauguration of Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson in 1999. A frequent guest conductor, Clark has organized massed choir events, adjudicated, and given clinics both at home and abroad. She has been artistic director for UNISONG (1997- ), the Niagara International Music Festival (1995-2004), and the Canterbury International Music Festival in England (1998-2002).

Clark has been a member of the board of directors for the Ontario Choral Federation (1984-5), the Canadian Choral Federation (1992-2004, 2006- ), and the NACO Association (1990- ). She has won numerous distinctions including a Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), a Canada 125 Medal (1992), the Victor Tolgesy Award (1994), the Ontario Choral Federation Distinguished Service Award (1996), a Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and the Carleton University Alumni Award of Distinction (2006). She was named Member of the Order of Canada in 2001.


"Notes: Memories of Italy... from both sides," Choirs Ontario, vol 24 no. 2, Dec 1994/Jan. 1996

"A joyful experience," Choirs Ontario, vol 17, no. 4, Summer 1988

"Fabulous forty! A celebration of fine music-making by the Central Children's Choir of Ottawa-Carleton," Dynamic, vol 28, no. 4, May-Sep 1999

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