Beautiful Music

October 25, 2017

Clay R. Warren Music Symposium Was a Huge Success

Choir directors hug while on stage
Dr. Craig Jessop, guest clinician for the inaugural Clay R. Warren Music Symposium celebrates with Wayland's Dr. Steven Weber following the Symposium concert on Oct. 24.

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University welcomed Dr. Craig Jessop, former conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, as the guest conductor and clinician for the inaugural Clay R. Warren Memorial Music Symposium on Oct. 23-24.

The two-day event culminated with a public concert in Harral Memorial Auditorium. Drawing from Plainview and surrounding communities, as well as Wayland students, faculty and staff, the audience heard a masterful performance featuring Wayland and community choirs, directed by Dr. Jessop.

Dr. Jessop is Dean of the Caine College of Arts at Utah State University. His personal achievements include 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 spent two days working with Wayland choirs, as well as local and area high school choirs. Canyon, Muleshoe, Amarillo Caprock, Amarillo High and Plainview High School participated in clinics, as will Coronado Middle School.

The concert featured Wayland’s International Choir, the Wayland Singers Chorus, the Plainview High School choir and the Plainview Chorale in a combined chorus. There also was special recognition by the Warren family as well and Clay Warren’s former high school choir director Walter Wright and the transplant recipient of Clay Warren’s heart, Bill Durham.

The Clay R. Warren Memorial Music Symposium is funded by the family of Clay Warren in memory of their son and his undying love of music. Clay was killed in an auto accident in 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 for years to come, 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,” said Clay’s father, Mark Warren. “Clay loved to sing. Freada (Clay’s mothers) 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 Durham who lives in the Houston area. The Warrens were able to meet Durham, developing a lasting 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.”