Lindsey Kleiser, 2007 Wayne High School graduate and principal oboist of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, participated in the 24/04 World Orchestra that performed April 24 in Yerevan, Armenia, for the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
More than 120 musicians from 43 countries and 47 orchestras joined forces for the commemorative concert conducted by Gianluca Marciano, Sergey Smbatyan and Mikhail Yurovski. Kleiser represented Bosnia along with Sarajevo Philharmonic’s first clarinetist Azra Ramic.
“It was such a phenomenal experience,” said Kleiser, 26. “Jumping into a rehearsal Day 1 with 121 musicians you’ve never played with or met is exciting but a little nerve-wracking. The first rehearsal was amazing. All those musicians with different styles of training and study immediately came together without a hitch. It was like we had studied and played together for years.”
Kleiser recalls the concert as extremely moving, specifically its inclusive nature and the power of its message that propelled beyond the music.
“It was a message from representatives of 43 countries that they remember the lives lost and ruined 100 years ago and demand that such atrocities never happen again,” she said. “The concert was made up of all Armenian-composed pieces, and you could see the effect of the music on the faces of everyone in the audience and orchestra. People were in tears, and as a musician it was one of those moments where I knew I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with music.”
A 2012 graduate of the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, Kleiser, who regards Bosnia as “a stunningly beautiful country,” joined the Sarajevo Philharmonic three years ago. She was particularly encouraged by her CCM oboe professor Dr. Mark Ostoich, who told her a principal oboe position was open in Sarajevo. She said she always had a love for the Balkans and had been looking for work in an orchestra somewhere in the former Yugoslavia. She is very proud of Sarajevo Philharmonic’s enduring legacy, which continues to inspire her and her fellow musicians.
“I took the audition, won a yearlong contract, worked for a year in Sarajevo, decided I loved it and wanted to stay, and signed a contract,” she said. “It was all very serendipitous. Getting to come into work every day with colleagues I love and play oboe is probably the No. 1 most exciting aspect. The orchestra has such a rich history. My first year in Sarajevo, the orchestra was preparing for its 90th anniversary. It’s a very big deal that this orchestra has survived. During the siege some of the musicians were killed, many instruments and scores were destroyed. The musicians literally were dodging snipers to get to work in a basement without electricity or heat and reading scores by candlelight. They still put on 60 concerts in the middle of a war. It’s a testament to the power of music.”
Kleiser says she began playing the oboe around the age of 11 or 12. Her music teacher asked her to switch from clarinet to oboe, bassoon or French horn. She ultimately studied in high school with Robyn Dixon Costa, who plays English horn for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.
“Robyn really helped me develop my oboe playing and steered me in the right direction when I made the decision to pursue it as a career,” she said. “I love that the oboe is such an expressive instrument. As a little girl, and quite honestly still as an adult, I always loved the cheesiest music, the almost overwhelmingly expressive ultra-romantic music. The oboe is the perfect instrument for this. It’s always been the instrument to give voice to the most tragic or romantic emotions in an orchestra.”
Kleiser warmly reflects on her involvement with the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra under the direction of Patrick Reynolds. The lessons learned were pivotal to her evolution as a musician. She especially advises young musicians to be open to travel in order find success and not limit themselves to one definition of a “music career.”
“To this day I’ll come across a piece I played when I was in the DPYO and can’t help but grin thinking about how much fun we all had playing together,” she said. “While playing with the DPYO I learned so much about how to work with other musicians, how to be professional, how to never compromise the musicality of a piece. It’s good to learn those things at a young age. It helped set me up for success in future ensembles. It was definitely a life-changing experience. Finding your niche in the music world, whether it is performing, teaching or marketing for an orchestra, is the most important thing you can do.”
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