Clay Warren Memorialized in Music
PLAINVIEW – The common ground of a love for music has brought Plainview residents Mark and Freada Warren together with the Wayland Baptist University School of Music to memorialize the Warren’s late son Clay. The inaugural Clay R. Warren Memorial Music Symposium is scheduled for Oct. 23-24.
Clay, an avid lover of music and member of the Plainview High School choir was killed in a car wreck on Sept. 21, 2002. Since then, the Warrens have worked diligently to memorialize their son in a such a way that leaves a lasting legacy in his name. The Symposium is something the Warrens feel will benefit the community, as well as honor their son’s memory.
“This is definitely something that I know my son would be proud of – that he would participate in,” Mark Warren said.
Dean of the School of Music Dr. Ann Stutes said her faculty has been working diligently to find a way to develop a program that brings in highly skilled and successful artists and clinicians to work with the music students. The development office at Wayland brought Dr. Stutes and the Warrens together to discuss funding for such an endeavor. Stutes said teaming with the Warrens is a God-send for the university.
“It’s been part of our long-range planning for years,” she said. “This is not part of a new vision for us, it’s now a new reality.”
Stutes and Dr. Steven Weber, professor of choral education and director of choirs, are finalizing plans for the inaugural Symposium that will feature Dr. Craig Jessop, Dean of the Caine College of Arts at Utah State University. Dr. Jessop is world renowned in his field. His personal achievement includes a distinguished tenure as director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and he is founder and director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra.
As a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force music programs, Dr. Jessop directed the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants from 1980-87. He was commander and conductor of the Band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (1987-91) and he commanded and conducted the Air Combat Command Heartland of America Band (1991-95). He has also served as director of the Maryland Choral Society, the Rhineland-Pfalz International Choir of Germany and the Omaha Symphonic Chorus.
Dr. Jessop will spend two days working with Wayland choirs, local and area high school choirs and the Lubbock Christian University choir. The Symposium will conclude Tuesday evening with a concert featuring the Wayland choirs with Dr. Jessop conducting. More information on the concert will be available as the date draws nearer.
Warren said the Symposium will serve as a great memorial for his son who loved his time spent with the PHS choir.
“Clay loved to sing,” Mark Warren said. “Freada tells the story that Clay sang before he talked.”
Clay’s music legacy carried on following his death. As an organ donor, his heart was donated to a gentleman who lives in the Houston area. The Warrens were able to meet the man with whom they developed a special friendship.
“Low and behold,” Mark said, “when we met him, he was in a gospel singing group. It was a perfect fit. We’ve had some real wonderful memories through that, and we’ve developed a great friendship with him.”
Clay’s heart recipient, who no longer performs, is planning on attending the Symposium concert.
While the Symposium will provide a cultural experience to choral music lovers throughout the area, Dr. Stutes said this type of event is critical to the education of music students.
“One of the important things about arts education is that arts come in regional and global varieties,” Stutes said. “It is our job as educators at this level to make sure every student in a music program has exposure to arts beyond the home base. Thanks to the Warrens, we are facing a future where we can design programs and bring in these select people.”
Freada Warren said doing something in Clay’s name that has the potential to be so beneficial to others is a perfect way to memorialize her son.
“We didn’t realize how much he did for others until he was gone and people started telling us,” she said. “We want to leave a legacy in Clay’s name. We want to do this for our son.”