Mark Schrager – Principal Clarinet

Picture of Mark Schrager young
Young Mark Schrager
Picture of Mark Schrager
Mark Schrager

After a brief attempt at playing the violin (I was encouraged by my father who was a good amateur violinist), I found that I was strongly drawn to the clarinet, which I started to play in the fifth grade. Growing up in northern New Jersey, I played clarinet in my high school concert band and tenor sax in the marching band and dance band. After high school I continued my musical endeavors in both the concert and marching bands and, more importantly, the orchestra at Brown University. These groups provided some of my most treasured college experiences. After graduation I went on to medical school at Georgetown, but after my second year I no longer had the time to spend with my instrument and reluctantly took a break while I completed my further training at UW Madison and the University of Connecticut.

            An old college friend, who was a trumpet player, encouraged me to start playing clarinet again as I was finishing my rheumatology fellowship in Connecticut, and when I settled in Milwaukee, I got serious about the instrument again. I took lessons from Russ Dagon and later from Diana Haskell and Bill Helmers over the years. I also joined the Knightwind Ensemble. In the late 90’s I joined the MFSO (which was still the Milwaukee Catholic Symphony) and have enjoyed playing with this fine group of musicians over the last 20+ years. My favorite memories include performing some of the “old warhorses” including Tchaikovsky’s Fourth, Mahler’s First and Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphonies. These were a real challenge! Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Handel’s Messiah at the Irish Cultural Heritage Center were also high points.

            In addition to the MFSO, I perform with a quartet, The Cream City Clarinets, and until recently had continued with the Knightwind. During several summers I attended the Raphael Trio Chamber Music Workshop in New England studying and performing both classical and  contemporary chamber works.

            On a personal level, I still enjoy keeping current on selected medical topics and giving free medical advice to my family and friends (I tell them that they get what they pay for). My non-musical hobbies include biking, taking long walks and snow shoeing. I am convinced that music and exercise are both essential to a healthy life style. Finally, I am looking forward to getting back to the MFSO as soon as we can safely gather again.