Recent Grad Directs Concert Choir With Passion & Personality
The sound of a choir singing spills into the hallway of Beacock Music Hall from the closed door of room 104. Inside, students harmonize with the accompanist while a man in a white button-down shirt sways his hands back and forth at the front of the room.
“Nice, everybody,” Dr. Jacob Funk said with a smile on his face. “Love that tone”. He paused, then lifted his hands again, prompting the choir to move on to the next section of “Earth’s Song,” a piece they began learning at the beginning of Fall quarter.
Funk joined Clark this Fall as one of the newest additions to the music department. Funk was announced as the new choir director after April Duvic, his predecessor, retired last Spring.
Funk recently graduated from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting. While completing his doctoral studies he was an assistant to the choral department, an associate conductor of the Conservatory Concert Choir and co-conductor of the University Singers.
Shelly Williams, Clark’s music department coordinator, said that Funk’s new perspective will be great for the music department. “He has been working with the latest and greatest in the chorale field,” Williams said. Williams anticipates Funk will incorporate his experiences as a graduate student into his teaching as time goes by.
According to Don Appert, Clark’s music department chair, Funk truly stood out amongst other applicants. All applicants had 20 minutes to direct the concert choir in learning a section of a piece they had never rehearsed before, and the end result was what each applicant was judged on. “For him to accomplish what he did in 20 minutes was what really spoke to me,” Appert said.
Funk’s new colleagues agreed that students have definitely warmed up to the new choir director. After meeting Funk during his audition, Clark’s theater director, Gene Biby, said that Funk seemed to be extremely passionate about music, and was a very personable guy. “He was the only applicant we had who acknowledged the pianist.”
Funk attributes his interest in teaching music to his unpaid choir internship at John Brown University. Funk described how his mentor recommended the internship after he came to a crossroads of what to major in at the end of his junior year at John Brown.
Due to Funk’s recent hiring, the music department has decided to postpone Clark’s annual Fall festival till next year so that Funk can “get his feet wet” in the Vancouver choral community. The event, which is meant to bring Clark’s numerous choir groups and community members together for a festival of song, was started by Funk’s predecessor four years ago.
Another new addition to Clark’s music department is renowned pianist Dr. Sophie Christian. Christian holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Michigan and Indiana University.