Portrait of Clark Potter

Clark Potter

Professor of Viola
Area of Focus: Conducting, Strings

A native of Longview, Washington, Clark Potter is Professor of Viola at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, where he is also on the conducting faculty. He is the director of NEBratsche (the UNL viola ensemble), and he is an active performer as a solo recitalist and chamber musician. Mr. Potter has conducted the Lincoln Youth Symphony since 2007 and has conducted that ensemble in Rome, Prague, Budapest, Dresden, Leipzig, Vienna, Dublin and Belfast. He is also a member of three chamber ensembles: the Nebraska Chamber Players, the Trans-Nebraska Players, and the newly formed UNL faculty ensemble, Una Corda. He is in demand as an adjudicator and clinician at schools in Nebraska and around the region. He has conducted All-State Middle School Orchestras in Iowa, Oregon, Nebraska and Alabama, and he has appeared more than 20 times as a guest conductor of high school honors orchestras in Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Nevada and Nebraska.

Professor Potter is the recipient of several awards. In October of 2023, he was honored with a coveted Mayor's Arts Award for Arts Education. In the spring of 2013, he was awarded "Outstanding Faculty in Outreach, Engagement and Service" for the College of Fine and Performing Arts at UNL and the "Golden Baton Award" for his dedication and work as a musician and citizen in Lincoln's Symphony Orchestra. In 2007, Mr. Potter was selected to receive the award for Private String Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and in 2008 he was honored as the String Educator of the Year in Nebraska by the same organization. After 26 years, Mr. Potter recently retired as principal viola of the Lincoln Symphony.

In 2019, Potter traveled three times to Europe. In March, he conducted the Lincoln Youth Symphony in Rome. In April, he was invited to conduct a youth orchestra in Budapest comprised of student musicians from International Christian Schools from many of the major cities of Europe, Istanbul and Moscow. Then in October, Mr. Potter was invited to give a lecture regarding "The Shakespeare Project" and perform with the Trans-Nebraska Players, at the Musical Intersections in Practice conference held at Churchill College, Cambridge University in Cambridge, England. That performance included works which Potter arranged of orchestral pieces inspired by Shakespeare's plays and readings from Shakespeare by scholar and actor, Mr. Tim Cribb, a fellow at Churchill College.

Regarding research interests, Professor Potter gave the world premiere of the 1946 viola sonata by Oscar-winning film composer Ernest Gold in Lincoln with Professor Mark Clinton in 2017, and later in the year the two artists presented a lecture/recital of the work at the American Viola Society meetings in Los Angeles. He is currently reviewing the unpublished viola concerto by Gold as well as other concert works by the same composer.

Mr. Potter worked for several years with Dr. Gregory Bashford and students of UNL's Biological Systems Engineering department to develop an instrument that measures breathing rates and intensities while playing the violin or viola. Results of initial testing were documented in the presentation "How do Upper String Players Breathe When They Play? Can Anything be Done to Help?", given at the March 2015 ASTA National Conference in Salt Lake City and the Nebraska Music Educators Conference in November of 2015.

In 2022, Professor Potter completed his edition of the six cello suites by Bach for viola following a grant award from the Research Council which provided a 5-string viola to be permanently housed in the viola studio at UNL. Potter gave a lecture recital featuring the sixth suite with that new instrument. The viola will ensure that future UNL viola students will have the opportunity to perform the piece, and other similar pieces, on a 5-string instrument.

Major performances include the viola solo in Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi with the Lincoln Symphony in 2010, and with the same orchestra he was featured with violinist Anton Miller, performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in 2005. In 2010 he performed the premiere of Martin Gaskell's Fantasia for Viola and Orchestra in Austin, TX.  He has been featured numerous times as a soloist with the University Symphony and has given more than fifty solo and collaborative recitals. He will perform the viola solo in an orchestrated version of the Rebecca Clarke Sonata in April of 2024. In addition, he is half-way to his goal of performing as a soloist or chamber musician in each of the 50 states.

During the summers, Mr. Potter is on the faculty of the Omaha Conservatory of Music Institute.  He has been a performer in the Oregon Coast Music Festival Orchestra, a guest artist at Rocky Ridge Music Center, artist/teacher of viola and chamber music at the Young Musicians and Artists summer program in Salem, Oregon, the Puget Sound Chamber Music Workshop, Lutheran Summer Music program and the Csehy Summer School of Music. He is active in the American String Teachers Association: he served six years on the board of the Nebraska chapter, he was president of the Oregon chapter, and he has written for the organization's national magazine. Mr. Potter served a three-year term on the Nebraska Music Educators Assoc. executive board as Orchestra Chair. He has also dabbled in composition, having composed three pieces for young orchestras, music for two contemporary ballets, one full-length "cowboy" musical, several pieces for choir and pieces for smaller instrumental combinations, including a sextet for violas.

Prior to his appointment at Nebraska, Mr. Potter taught nine years at Eastern Oregon University, where he was associate professor of strings and conductor of the Grande Ronde Symphony. He received his graduate degrees from Indiana University and California Institute of the Arts and his bachelor's degree from Western Washington University. He has studied with Peter Marsh, James Dunham, Charmian Gadd, Richard Goldner, and Mimi Zweig.

Clark would rather be at home than anywhere else in the world, however, enjoying time with his family, including wife, Jan; daughter Shannon and her whippets Apollo and Gemini; and son Samuel and his wife Alexandria, the first grandchild Hudson (!) and their pug Stinky Pete. He is a big baseball and Seattle Mariners fan, and his favorite hobby is to run and race on roads and trails year around.