Lawrence mourns the loss of Jennifer Fitzgerald

Grace Christiansen

Lawrence University lost a valuable member of its community on December 23, 2007. Jennifer Fitzgerald, an instructor of music composition in the Conservatory, died after a long battle with cancer.Fitzgerald was continually exploring new forms of composition and was particularly attracted to “unusual instrumental combinations,” according to her personal Web site.

She taught with great passion and energy throughout her entire battle with cancer. According to music professor Fred Sturm, Fitzgerald’s colleague and friend, Fitzgerald “was never complaining, never drawing attention toward her pain or suffering … her courage and spirit will inspire all of us who were privileged to know her.”

Fitzgerald was born July 8, 1975 in New York City. She received her BA in music from Tufts University and her master’s degree and doctorate in music composition from Duke University.

According to the Lawrence University Web site, she produced several original works including “Sometimes the Sun” for soprano and cello, “A Wedding Toast” for solo piano, “Ice” for violin, cello, and piano, and “2 in the Corner” for two electric guitars.

She also founded pulsoptional, a music ensemble and composers’ collective. The pulsoptional group remembers that, “in her too-short but well-lived life, Jen touched many; she was fiercely dedicated to her musical, intellectual, and moral ideals, as well as to her friends and fellow artists.”

Jennifer remained unwavering in her commitment to her work and her students throughout her entire battle with cancer.

Said her colleague, music instructor John Benson, “The one thing that sticks out for me about Jen Fitzgerald was the courage and strength of character she displayed in her fight with cancer. Since she was maintaining a full-time teaching load for the term, I assumed that the cancer was in remission. Little did I know that her disease was advancing to the point of taking her life. Jen displayed unusual dedication to her work at Lawrence, and most of all, devotion to her students. She will be sadly missed. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her.”

Fitzgerald is survived by her partner, Charles Jester, her mother, stepfather, and sister, and her father and stepmother.

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