The Future Looks Bright For Young Composer Clarke

Wednesday - July 18, 2007
By Lisa Asato
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John Tussey and Kathleen Clark with 11-year-old composer Liam Clarke. Photo by Byron Lee
John Tussey and Kathleen Clark with 11-year-old composer Liam Clarke. Photo by Byron Lee, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

An 11-year-old Waialua resident who will attend St. Louis School as a seventh-grader in the fall is proving to be quite the composer.

Since September, David Liam Clarke has churned out six pieces on his piano at home and has published four as sheet music - and to think, the creative windfall may have been missed if it hadn’t been for his tepid enthusiasm for the dreaded word: practice.

Clarke, who started piano lessons five years ago, was recently introduced to composition by John Tussey, his newest teacher, who took note of a lukewarm situation and found a passion.

“Rather than turning it into a negative situation, I decided to offer teaching him composition, and I’m glad I did because we didn’t know that he could compose music, and after we started it took him six months to compose six piano pieces - that’s incredible,” said Tussey, who has recorded two CDs and counts former American Idol contestant Jordan Segundo among his students.

Tussey said Clarke’s compositions sound as if they were written by a young adult, not a pre-teen. He said he can easily foresee Clarke writing for TV, radio and symphony. “In fact, I really think the Honolulu Symphony Pops has got to hear this - Matt Catingub. I’ve got to contact him. Maybe through a website or something, I need to e-mail him.”

Segundo, who has listened to the pieces, called Clarke “a very talented young man.”

“He is an inspiration to young artists, and I congratulate him on his achievements.”

Tussey and Clarke spent two months completing an orchestration for Clarke’s composition Blue Waters at Waimea Bay, and the pair have started working on another, for The Blue Grotto.

Other songs in Clarke’s growing repertoire of contemporary easy listening pieces include: The Heavenly Ocean, Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and Walking in Wonder at Ipanema Bay, his first composition, named for a site in Brazil, which is home to his once-favorite soccer team. “They got skills,” said Clarke, who plays for RUSH and listens to singers like Fall Out Boy, Maroon 5 and Daughtry on his black iPod.

Clarke, the son of Ray and Kathleen and older brother to Zoe, said composing “just came naturally.” An avid reader, Clarke said he enjoys composing because “it involves your ear and sometimes it involves a little bit of math, which I love, and it can be a lot of hard work.”

Mom Kathleen, who accompanies Liam to his weekly practices, said she’s glad that not only does he have a gift, but that he seems to enjoy composing. “It’s actually kind of nice,” she said, “where we kind of just sit at home, and we just listen to him.”

For more information, check out Clarke’s website at

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