Jessica Lindsey (by Katherine Kirchner)

The faculty and friends concert was another event that I’ve experienced for the first time. The setlist featured five pieces from acclaimed female composer in the 20th century. All five of them are now featured in the CD “Set No Limits” (2018). The concert featured Dr. Jessica Lindsey on the clarinet and Dr. Christian Bohenstengal on the piano.

Opening number “Ritual” was composed by Katherine Hoover. A highly intense piece thanks to the wailing clarinet from Dr. Lindsey. The music was influenced by Hoover’s studies of Greek folk music which is evident in the intricate patterns the Clarinet provides. “Ritual” sets the tone of the concert as they provide a wild ride of tempos that are slow and fast.

Marga Richter’s “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano” is one of my favorites from this setlist. I love the technicality that the final movement provides. Both Dr. Lindsey and Dr. Bohenstengal met the challenge that the song provides with the large leaps from note to note that leaves you on the edge due to the difficulty.

“Solitude” provides a cool down after the intensity of “Sonata for Clarinet and Piano.” As the title implies, it gives listener an introspective look into themselves. I most certainly felt this mood and even began to look inward with the music. It gives me an uncertainty and I could hear this when I’m walking through a field of grass under cloudy, grey skies contemplating.

What fascinating is that many of these composers had different backgrounds growing up. Hoover’s parents weren’t supportive of her musical aspirations, Ruth Schonthal and her family were on the run from Hitler’s Regime. Furthermore, during their time as students they were the only women in their field and some of them weren’t taken seriously by peers or teachers.

However, that didn’t stop all of these composer from pursuing their dreams and making music. Their work would eventually be recognized and they would receive prestigious awards. And the fact their music was performed by great musicians years after being written is a testament to their legacy.

It’s a break from the stereotype of classical music being written by male composers who are no longer alive and were written hundreds of years ago. No disrespect there, but the show provides another look at the genre of classical music.

This concert proves that you can reach your goals regardless of the circumstances as long as you have the passion and the dedication. And for that, you have my respect.

“Set No Limits” is available now on CD, iTunes and Spotify on Albany Records.