Three years of hard work paid off

Release party hosted in honor of new album, “Escape.”


Jacob Thomas photo Lienert and Mackey playing for audience in Nohr Gallery.

Music professors Dr. Corey Mackey and Dr. Keith Lienert hosted a release party in the Nohr Gallery for their new album “Escape.” Family, friends and students attended the party to hear selections from the album and anecdotes about its development.

Guests were provided dinner by catering services and had the opportunity to purchase a copy of the album before Mackey and Lienert performed  one of the pieces. After the song  was performed, they thanked everyone for coming and talked about the album’s background and inspiration.

“There is a lot of mediocre music written for clarinet and percussion, and we wanted to find good music, written well, for the genre and the instrumentation,” Mackey said.

The pair spent three years working on the album, two of which were spent on research, and they were excited to see it come to fruition.

Between playing, the two told stories about their time recording the album and where the pieces came from. One notable moment was their recounting of how thoroughly they prepared to record only to be thwarted by the sounds of nearby lawnmowers. In spite of this, they managed to record the album over several very long 12- to 14-hour days.

The pair also discussed how different it was recording the album live as opposed to recording each part and blending them together. During this, Mackey praised Lienert’s innovative use of jury-rigged earbuds to keep the pair in time.

As the event went on, the duo performed several pieces from the album, resulting in a very diverse display. This was something they said was important to them while creating the album. Many pieces were dedicated to colleagues and family, including the late Dr. Barry Ellis, who passed away in October 2018.

“I really loved the piece that they dedicated to Dr. Barry Ellis. It was absolutely beautiful; it brought many tears to many people’s eyes,” sophomore music education major Abby Goodhall said.

While developing the album, the pair said they went through dozens of pieces they didn’t like for each one they did, and they talked about the two pieces they commissioned specifically for the album. They extended their thanks to everyone who was part of the album’s creation, from their wives to the recording staff.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding too because we commissioned two works, so we contacted two composers to write music specifically for us,” Lienert said.

After the final piece of the night, the audience gave Mackey and Lienert a standing ovation for their performances and success. More information about “Escape” can be found on both Mackey’s and Lienert’s websites: and