Clifton J. "Jerry" Noble, Jr.
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Clifton J. Noble, Jr. was born in 1961. His father taught him to play piano and guitar at age 5, and encouraged him to write music shortly thereafter. His studies at Amherst College (B. A. 1983) and Smith College (M.A. 1988) focussed on music composition and English literature. Composition teachers included M. Lewis Spratlan at Amherst and Donald Wheelock at Smith.
Since 1987, he has served as pianist for Smith College choral ensembles, and currently holds the position of Staff Pianist in the Smith Music Department. Many of his compositions, including Pastorale, A Tonic of Wilderness, Windows of the Morning, and numerous arrangements of folk songs and spirituals have been written for Smith choirs. His original choral compositions and arrangements have been performed by choruses throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
He has been commissioned by numerous acclaimed soloists and ensembles, including the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Assabet Valley Mastersingers, the Holyoke Civic Symphony Orchestra, the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, Music in Deerfield, the Florentine Trio, saxophonist Lynn Klock, baritone Donald Boothman, the Canticle Singers of Baltimore, the Bel Canto Singers of Nevada, the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield, Young Singers of Greater Westfield, the Children's Chorus of Springfield, and the Western MA Young People's Philharmonia. Other singular commissions include Parting Words, a cantata celebrating the tercentenary of Northampton minister Jonathan Edwards, and Five Choral Haiku, premiered February 28 at the 2004 Five College Choral Festival at Smith College's John M. Greene Hall.
Encounter for orchestra and narrator, commissioned by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with author Jane Yolen, was premiered on April 28, 2008. He also collaborated with Yolen to set the text of her book Johnny Appleseed for chamber ensemble, children's choir, and narrator in the fall of 2008. His Champlain 400, for string quartet and narrator, was commissioned by the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's explorations of Lake Champlain. His arrangement of the African-American spiritual Go Down Moses was premiered at Alden Baptist Church in Springfield in 2008 by the combined Mak'hela and Freedom Choirs, under the direction of Kayla Werlin. Mak'hela also performed Go Down Moses at the 2010 Zimriya World Assembly of Choirs in Israel. Tidings of Great Joy was commissioned by the Smith College Glee Club and Chorus and was premiered at the December 2009 Vespers service at the college. In October 2010, the Holyoke Civic Symphony premiered Marching In, a concerto for jazz trio and orchestra.
With clarinetist Bob Sparkman, he enjoys playing traditional jazz, and the duo has recorded seven CDs of their favorite tunes, Good Talks, Still Talkin', Talkin' It Over, Sweet Talk, Something Mellow, Something Blue, Bob and Jerry LIVE, and Thanks a Million. They have also collaborated with bassist Genevieve Rose and drummer Richard Mayer on Mayer's CD Vermont Songbook.
A CD of Noble's Sonatas for Violin and Piano was released in 2006 by Gasparo Records. De Profundis, a sonata for baritone saxophone and piano (commissioned by Lynn Klock, Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) is included on Klock's Albany Records CD entitled Connections, which was released in 2010. Klock also commissioned Canueon Cymru, a suite of Welsh folksongs arranged for alto saxophone and orchestra, and will premiere it with the Pioneer Valley Symphony in February, 2011.
Noble is a highly regarded keyboard performer in the Pioneer Valley. He has served as organist and choir director at both Edwards Church in Northampton and Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenfield, and taught general music to students in grades K-6 at Holy Trinity School in Greenfield. He accompanied the Young Singers of Greater Westfield for 10 years, and regularly accompanies student performances in the Westfield Public Schools and throughout the Five Colleges.
Noble also writes classical music reviews and features for the Springfield Republican Newspapers. He resides in Western Massachusetts with wife Kara and daughter Samantha.