O’Brien to sign ‘Mr. Clark’s Big Band’

BAR HARBOR — Massachusetts author Meredith O’Brien will sign copies of her latest book, “Mr. Clark’s Big Band: A Year of Laughter, Tears and Jazz in a Middle School Band Room,” at the Bar Harbor Music Festival at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church on Wednesday, July 5, at 8 p.m. She also will sign books at Sherman’s Books on July 6.

The “Mr. Clark” in the title, Jamie Clark, is the hero of the book, which was recently featured in the Boston Globe. Clark, whose brass ensemble Brass Venture will perform twice during the festival, successfully guided his Massachusetts middle school charges through a year of mourning after the sudden death of one of their bandmates, 12-year-old trumpet player Eric Green. O’Brien’s son Jonah, a drummer, was a member of the band as well as a good friend of Green.

By taking emotional risks, pushing the boundaries and doing whatever it took to help his grieving students, Clark led his Big Band to perform a complicated jazz piece commissioned in Green’s honor at a memorial service, to win jazz competitions and, ultimately, to the other side of grief. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais called the book “endearing and inspiring.”

Author Suzanne Strempek Shea called it “a timeless story, one that underlines in gold the power of the unsung heroes all around us.”

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