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updated: 5/7/2014 4:20 PM

Retiring CLC music professor leading final concert on campus Friday

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  • College of Lake County music department professor Charles Clency is retiring and will lead his final spring choral concert Friday night at the Grayslake flagship campus.

    College of Lake County music department professor Charles Clency is retiring and will lead his final spring choral concert Friday night at the Grayslake flagship campus.
    Courtesy of College of Lake County


Retiring College of Lake County music department Professor Charles Clency will lead his final spring choral concert Friday.

Clency, 76, said Wednesday he was not thinking of calling it a career at CLC until the State University Employees Retirement System informed him that his benefits were scheduled to be significantly reduced after June 30.

He said his sudden retirement decision came about a month ago, and that he'll miss working with a knowledgeable faculty and the students.

"Tremendous energy," Clency said of his CLC experience during 10 years. "Just great energy from all aspects."

Set for 8 p.m. at James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts in the flagship Grayslake campus, the Clency-led concert will feature 125 vocalists from the Chamber Singers, CLC Singers, Gospel Choir and the Choir of Lake County.

Clency joined CLC's faculty in 2004 as professor of music and director of choirs. He's credited with adding innovative courses to the curriculum, such as ear training and sight singing.

Friday's choral program will include madrigals, motets, ballads and folk music in secular and sacred styles. Literature from renowned composers, such as Eric Whitacre, Moses Hogan and Edwin Fissinger, will be presented by the choirs.

While an undergraduate student at Northeastern Illinois University, Clency was brought on as accompanist and arranger for legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. He globetrotted with Jackson until she died in 1972.

Clency's lengthy resume includes conducting the Miami Oratorio Society in Florida, resident conductor with the Houston Ebony Opera Guild and music director at the 8,500-member Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee.

CLC spokeswoman Diane Rarick is among the performers who will miss Clency. She's in the Choir of Lake County, which has about 50 singers ranging from young adults in college to older community members.

"Dr. Clency has grown CLC's choral music program over the last 10 years from 25 singers to over 125 singers and added two new choirs," Rarick said in an email to the Daily Herald. "His depth of musical knowledge and talent is amazing. He's an expert in conducting everything from Renaissance motets to gospel music. He has made all of us better musicians and helped us achieve more than we ever thought was possible."

Before Clency leaves, he'll bring a group of 35 singers from CLC to New York's Carnegie Hall in mid-June. He took another group of CLC singers to Carnegie Hall in 2007.

Tickets to Friday's spring choral concert are available by calling the James Lumber Center box office at (847) 543-2300 or

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