Get to Know the DSSO: Jennifer Gerth, Principal Clarinet

Name:  Jennifer Gerth

Member of DSSO since: 1997

DSSO Position: Principal Clarinet

Bachelor of Arts – St. Olaf College
Master of Music – Northwestern University in Evanston, IL
Doctor of Musical Arts (ABD) – University of Minnesota

What made you decide to pursue a career in music? 
I was a math major at St. Olaf and realized that I was spending much more time in the music building than I was in the math/sciences building. I decided to double major in math and music and get a master’s degree in music to see if it would continue taking me in that direction…. and it did!

What has been the highlight of your career thus far? 
I’ve been so lucky and feel like there have been so many fun moments. A few favorites: playing Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, Weber Concertino and Debussy Rhapsodie as a soloist, playing Rhapsody in Blue, Prokofiev 5, Rachmaninoff 2 with the DSSO, and Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time because it is one of the best chamber pieces ever written.

What made you choose to play clarinet? 
I actually wanted to play the oboe from about age 7. Our district only had one oboe and someone else was already playing it so they told me to choose something else. At age 12 I picked the clarinet because I thought it was most similar to the oboe!

What’s the most challenging thing about playing the clarinet? 
REEDS because they are forever temperamental! Playing a reed instrument is like trying to dance while having the floor constantly shifting underneath you. They are constantly changing with weather, temperature, humidity, etc. And we are sadly dependent on them for making a sound on the clarinet.

Do you have a favorite piece of orchestral repertoire to play and/or listen to? 
I mentioned a few of these already: Rachmaninoff 2nd Symphony, Prokofiev 5th Symphony, Beethoven Symphony 6, Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

When you’re not performing, what do you do for fun? 
I love to run, do yoga, cook, garden, sew and scuba dive. I also have two teenage sons and I love to go to their sporting and music events!

What’s one thing you hope people take away from a DSSO concert? 
I hope the music transports them and gives them joy. There are so many stresses in life and I want people to leave the concert with a more relaxed demeanor and a happy and hopeful heart.

Do you have any advice for those looking to pursue a career in music? 
Work hard, study hard, practice hard, be flexible, and always play from the heart.