Giving back to a program that inspires: Dr. James E. Clark Chamber Music Residency 2019

March 4, 2019

Jamie Clark and her teacher, David Ying

By Sarah Forestieri

Jamie Clark recalls that pivotal first moment she entered the Main Hall for her Eastman School of Music audition, “The brilliant energy bubbling within the school felt like the magic of Hogwarts. The feeling I came to learn wholeheartedly over the next four years was tangible in that first moment. My mom clearly deduced from the look on my face that she would be buying many tickets to Rochester, New York over the next few years – in addition to a new, impenetrable winter coat.”

By the time she graduated from Eastman in 2012 with a degree in cello performance, Jamie had become an enthusiastic participant in the school’s chamber music program. Her father, James E. Clark, was so moved by the program that was fundamental in his daughter’s growth as a musician that he wanted to give back to Eastman in a way that would benefit future students for years to come. In 2014, the Dr. James E. Clark Chamber Music Residency was established, with the goal of providing Eastman student ensembles with intense, up-close exposure to the teaching and playing of a world-renowned ensemble each spring. For the 2019 Clark Residency, Eastman welcomes the Jupiter String Quartet on March 7 and 8.

Doctor Clark recalls witnessing a moment between Jamie and her teacher, David Ying, after she completed her first recital at Eastman. “I was truly inspired by the interactions between Jamie and David.  I could see that there was somebody in her life who really was helping to lead her — musically, certainly, but also guide her during her time at Eastman. If you have kids, you can understand that sometimes there is this uneasiness when they go out in the world – and you just hope they’ll find someone to foster, care, progress, and help them to find their strengths. This is why I wanted something donated to Eastman in my name; it really promoted what I would want every parent and every student to experience.”

Jamie refers to each lesson with David Ying as a “golden hour,” and recalls many mesmerized moments watching her teacher in Ying Quartet performances. “I knew at the time that the choice of an undergraduate teacher was potentially the most integral aspect of choosing an undergraduate school, though there was no way for me to have comprehended the depth to which Mr. Ying would inspire and guide me. His influence on my playing, approach to music, love of collaboration, and more recently, my aspirations in helping my own students cultivate their own relationships with music, has been profound.”

“I loved working with Jamie,” adds David Ying. “Not just because she made tremendous progress as a musician during her Eastman years, but also because of the way she has used every bit of her Eastman education in the years after she left. Whether beautifully playing a sonata or quartet, or starting her own successful chamber music festival, she is a terrific credit to all of us who helped her on her journey here.”


Alex Gonzalez, Kenny Lee, Jamie Clark, and Seth Russell – friends from Eastman’s Class of 2012

In addition to experiencing some of the most pivotal musical moments of her life at Eastman, Jamie also met her fiancé Kenny Lee (BM ’12), who is also a cellist from the studio of Steven Doane, and best friend Seth Russell (BM ’12) who she met in the studio of David Ying. “The environment inspired me deeply, and also created friendships and bonds that are as strong now, ten years later, as they were my first year. Beyond the three of us, our entire circle of friends remains very close, finding ways to play together throughout the year, whether at festivals in Europe or at our very own festival in Colorado.” In 2017, Jamie and Kenny co-founded the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival in Boulder.

“Eastman holds a special place in my heart and I could not have asked for a more complete experience in undergrad,” adds Kenny. “The Dr. Clark Chamber Music Residency is a wonderful new addition to the school. The residency not only offers students exposure to professional chamber groups of the highest caliber but also encourages them to make chamber music a significant component to their artistic growth.”

“The ESM Chamber Music Dept. is so grateful to Dr. Clark for making this residency possible each year,” adds Elinor Freer, Chair of the Chamber Music Department. “Allowing our chamber music groups the opportunity to interact up close with a world class guest ensemble each spring gives them new perspectives and fresh inspiration.” Dr. Clark’s daughter Jamie is living proof of how Eastman not only provides students with the technical skills required for musical excellence, but also prepares them to be unique artists, entrepreneurial thinkers, and colleagues in a network that will remain with students for life.

Jamie shares, “I think my Dad really understood the miracles Eastman, David Ying, and the chamber music program offered me, and when granted the chance, he wanted to contribute to the collaborative growth and education of other string-playing students.  I hope the coming years of this residency bring inspiration, collaboration, and innovation to the Eastman community and I thank whoever is watching over me for the extraordinary good fortune to have had both my Dad and the Eastman School of Music in my life.”

“This residency is not about me, it is about the students,” says Dr. Clark. He truly understands the benefits students receive from working with world-class professionals early in their careers, in a safe space that fosters the highest levels of musicianship and constructive learning. “I hope it enhances their lives and gives them a bit of extra support so that they feel they are going in the right direction.”

The Jupiter Quartet

As a part of the James E. Clark Chamber Music Residency, the Jupiter Quartet will present a free recital on Friday, March 8, 2019 at 12 p.m. in Hatch Recital Hall at the Eastman School of Music. Following the recital, there will be a Q & A session with the audience. You can also catch the Jupiter Quartet on Thursday, March 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall at Eastman, where they will give a chamber music master class with Eastman students.

For more information on the Jupiter String Quartet, visit

For more information on the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival, visit

Further information about the James E. Clark Chamber Music Residency can be found at