Dr. René Clausen was honored for his life’s work with a lifetime achievement award.
Mary Kay Geston, president of the North Central American Choral Directors Association, presented Clausen with the Weston H. Noble Award for Lifetime Achievement in February at the 2018 ACDA Central and North Central Conference in Chicago.
In 1994, the North Central Division of the ACDA established the Weston H. Noble Award for Lifetime Achievement to recognize outstanding contributions to the choral art. Weston Noble (1922-2016) was the first recipient of this award that is presented biannually at North Central Division conferences.
Noble, a charter member of the ACDA, was a beloved and honored music educator and conductor who had a 57-year tenure at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. He received acclaim from around the country and the world as conductor of Luther College’s Nordic Choir from 1948-2005 and Concert Band from 1948-1973, and as guest director of more than 900 all-state bands, orchestras, choirs and festivals across four continents.
Diana Leland, a member of ACDA of Minnesota and a former national president of ACDA, visited Noble two weeks before he passed away and it was then that Noble informed Leland that he had selected Clausen as the recipient of the 2018 award.
“It is a very special award for me in a very personal sense because Weston chose me for the award created in his honor shortly before he died,” Clausen said.
Clausen was a friend and colleague of Noble’s. When Clausen was in high school, Noble worked to recruit him to the music program at Luther. At the time, Clausen was in the midst of switching his primary interest from instrumental to choral music and ultimately decided to attend St. Olaf to pursue choral music. Clausen graduated in 1974 from St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., and received Master of Music Performance and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Illinois.
“I have always had great respect for him, especially after we became professional colleagues in sister colleges, Concordia and Luther,” Clausen said of Noble. “He was one of the most gentle men I have ever known. In addition to being a fine musician, he cared deeply for his students on a personal level. He was a good friend and colleague, and I will miss him greatly.”
In addition to conducting and teaching at Concordia since 1986, Clausen has a vast compositional repertoire of more than 150 choral and orchestra works frequently performed worldwide. He is also a frequent guest conductor, composer and lecturer.