Stories

Bassoon, Biochemistry, and Law School

Chris Redmond ‘17

Professors, experiences, and self-discipline have shaped Chris Redmond's journey from music to science to law


Major
: biochemistry
Minors: legal studies and religious studies
Instrument: bassoon

Music is great training for many things

At 14, bassoonist Chris Redmond was captivated by the massive, brilliant sound of the New York Philharmonic performing Mahler’s fifth symphony. He wanted to sound that good.

He couldn’t find a private teacher near his hometown, an hour north of Albany, N.Y. So he improved with mentoring by his band teacher — a tuba player — and practicing every day independently.

By the end of junior year, Redmond achieved a perfect score on his New York State School Music Association competition performance.

Encouraged by a state conference conductor to audition, he tried out at Eastman School of Music and at Juilliard School. “I really felt like I was at the top of my game. It felt great. I knew I was going to get in.”

But three months before high school graduation, he got two heart-breaking denials.

Setting new goals

Looking back now, as a senior at Nazareth College, Redmond is grateful for the shift in his plans — and for diverse opportunities he never imagined.

At Nazareth, he chose a biochemistry major, drawing on his interest in science.

“I realized that my passion for music as a hobby is much greater than if I made it a job,” he says. “From my self-discipline as a musician, I had all the right tools to do whatever I wanted to.”

Then another challenge. He’d expected to play volleyball at Nazareth, but then his classes conflicted with practice. Now what?

“I thought of my grandfather, who was a judge in my hometown, and thought how cool would it be to follow in his footsteps. He was the one everyone looked up to in the family. I always have wanted to emulate him.”

New goal: law school. And a minor in legal studies at Nazareth. “Taking Introduction to Law, taught by President Braveman, was truly the turning point when I knew that going to law school was really the right path for me, the path I could take to help people one day.” Law schools are open to a variety of undergraduate degrees, so he’s continued biochemistry.

Solving problems through law  

Like Olivia Pope, the character on the ABC political thriller TV series Scandal, Redmond likes to solve problems. That could mean policy work for the government, perhaps focusing on health to take advantage of his biochemistry degree.

“You’re at the center,” he says of policy work. “I like the idea of having a problem come to me and being able to resolve it.”

Or he might pursue patent law, informed by his science background. Or work for the United Nations to improve human rights, inspired by his religious studies professor Susan Nowak and her classes about issues such as genocide. “In Religion 101, I was mesmerized by finding out how different societies live and work together and how religion acts to bring peace into this world — and blown away by the passion that Dr. Nowak put into teaching each of her classes.” The strong teacher-student connection drove him to add a religious studies minor.

Independent research

Redmond liked science in high school and he loves doing research, which he began in his first semester at Nazareth. For the past several years, he’s focused on the proteins involved in E. coli infection. The work could lead to a way to prevent infection from tainted food.

“I learned the most about myself as a student through Independent Research, a course for chemistry majors, where I was able to apply the information and techniques I learned in my science courses to a real-life research project.”

“I don’t plan on going to graduate school to do research, but the development of my critical thinking skills through Independent Research gave me a tool that I know I will use throughout law school, and eventually as a lawyer.”

Balancing act

Redmond is the principal bassoonist of the Nazareth College Symphony Orchestra.

“There’s nothing like going to a practice room on campus and practicing orchestra music for an upcoming concert or playing a piece for fun. It’s so convenient to be able to leave the library, go to the Arts Center, and take my mind off school for a little bit.”

“Music is always going to be there. It’s gotten me to the place where I want to be. It has given me the discipline, the drive, and the passion to do anything I want.”

Chris Redmond

Extracurricular Activities

Fun Facts

  • Tennis and volleyball player
  • Regularly attends New York City Ballet performances, Philadelphia Orchestra shows, and Dave Matthews Band concerts

Exceeding expectations

"Our professors will go out of their way to give us opportunities."

  • Religious Studies Professor Susan Nowak told Redmond about human rights internship opportunities in Washington, D.C.
  • Stephen Tajc, assistant professor of organic chemistry, connected Redmond with two patent attorneys.
  • Nazareth President Daan Braveman — who taught Redmond's Intro to Law course — helped in navigating the law school application process.
  • Kelly Hutchinson, assistant professor of chemistry education, takes Redmond and other volunteers to elementary school classes to do small-scale science experiments with the goal of inspiring young students.

Advice to new students

"Get involved as soon as possible and pursue what interests you. Join an ensemble, organization, and/or club. Fellow ensemble musicians and peers are the greatest and most welcoming people who will make you feel like you're a part of the music family. Everyone in the music department shares a deep passion for music! The Involvement Fair during orientation is a great way to find ways to get involved on campus."

Resource

Nazareth's Center for Life's Work offers mentored career planning. Get help integrating your major studies, Nazareth's uncommon core courses, and your experiential learning to create an individualized career plan.