[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
66°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


Dirk Fischer on SCVTV's "House Blend" music show in 2011

Dirk Fischer on SCVTV’s “House Blend” music show in 2011

Stewart Roussin Fischer, better known as “Dirk” Fischer, noted composer, arranger, trumpeter, valve trombonist and head of the College of the Canyons Jazz Department for more than 28 years, died Monday at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia. He was 88.

Family members and friends were at his side, said George Fischer, youngest of Dirk’s four sons.

Fischer had been battling colon cancer for almost a year, and it is believed that caused his death, George Fischer said. “There will be no autopsy. My father did not want any extraordinary life-saving measures at all, yet wanted to die with dignity, in comfort and at peace, which he did.”

Born Sept. 1, 1924 in Durand, Mich., Fischer picked up the trumpet and saxophone at age 13, about the same time he picked up the nickname “Dirk” from his piano-playing mother (his father played banjo). Dirk’s older brother Clare Fisher, who died in 2012, was also a musician and composer/arranger.

Dirk in his home studio, April 8, 2011

Dirk in his home studio, April 8, 2011 | Photo: Stephen K. Peeples

After graduating high school, Dirk formed a group called The Aristocats, which lasted until he was drafted. He served three years in the Army during World War II, moving his way from kitchen duty to leading Army Services bands. He was sent to Fort Lee to work with Army jazz bands instead of being shipped overseas. At Fort Lee, he also studied jazz arrangement with Gil Evans, who was assigned to the same post.

After the war, under the G.I Bill, Fischer studied trumpet and during the late 1940s and ‘50s toured as a member of several bands booked out of Omaha by the National Orchestra Service.

Dirk at home in 1993

Dirk at home in 1993

After the NOS folded, Fisher moved to Los Angeles, and worked as a composer/arranger on the L.A. studio scene for about six years. He met and married his second wife, Roz, and they co-owned the Owl Coffee Shop in Van Nuys for 14 years. During that time, Fischer resumed his education at Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge and earned a teaching credential.

At his wife’s suggestion, Fischer checked out the music program at College of the Canyons and initially studied under R.K. Downs, who headed the college’s music department. Fischer’s involvement at COC gradually shifted from student to instructor and he was named the college’s first head of Jazz Studies in 1977.

Fischer built COC’s Jazz Department into a powerhouse that produced countless musicians and earned regional and national recognition. He founded the Studio Jazz Ensemble big band, which became an ambassador for the college and its music program. Fischer also produced the annual R.K. Downs Jazz Festival at COC, showcasing the best high-school jazz talent each year.

Fischer retired from day-to-day activities with COC’s music department in February 2005, but remained active behind the scenes, arranging and occasionally conducting music for the students’ regular public performances.

When he died, Fischer was working on a piece to be performed by the jazz band under the direction of K.C. Manji, who was named head of the department after Fischer retired.

With late wife Roz

With late wife Roz

Many of the arrangements played by the COC Studio Jazz Ensemble were the creations of Dirk Fischer, and his work remains the core of the college’s Jazz Studies program.

Fischer was preceded in death by his second wife, Rosalindo (“Roz”) Joyce Fischer, who died in 2005.

Fischer is survived by first wife Lula Frances Leak; eldest son Louis Andre Fischer and his family; middle son Eric Fischer and his family; youngest son George Fischer and his family;  daughter Mischa Fischer and her family; and stepson Michael Satin and his family.

George Fischer said his father knew his time was getting short. Over the past several months Dirk expressed his wishes for how the family would handle his death.

dirkfischerhouseblend_skp“During these conversations, I’d try to think what my life would be like without my father,” George said. “I lost my best friend.”

He took a moment to compose himself. “He may have been my father, but we had a friendship that I think cut through a lot of things that fathers and sons go through and we said to each other many times that you’re my best friend. I could speak to him (unlike) I could speak to anyone else. I’m going to miss him dearly.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Read a transcript of the SCVTV Newsmaker interview with Fischer from December 2004, just as he was retiring, [HERE].

Watch Fischer on SCVTV’s “House Blend” with host Stephen K. Peeples from June 2011, [HERE].

 

 

COC Press Release, 2/27/2013

Renowned musician, composer and longtime College of the Canyons jazz professor Stewart Roussin Fischer — affectionately known to family, friends, colleagues and students as ‘Dirk’ — died Monday, Feb. 25, in Santa Clarita. He was 88.

Fischer began his teaching career at COC in 1977 at a time when most academic institutions had yet to fully incorporate jazz studies programs into their curriculum.

In fact, it was Fischer’s venture back into student life in the mid-70s, while looking for fellow musicians to play alongside, that eventually led to his chance encounter with former COC music instructor RK Downs.

A few short years later Fischer would be named the college’sfirst instructor of jazz studies and director of the college’s jazz band.

Before retiring in 2005, Fischer dedicated his 28 years at the college to building COC’s music department, while working to establish several of the college’s most endeared and longstanding musical traditions, including jazz band performances at the college’s annual commencement ceremony.

“Dirk was equally devoted to music and teaching. He was uniquely gifted in both areas, and we were blessed that he shared those gifts so freely with us at College of the Canyons for nearly three decades,” COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook said.  “I will miss him greatly. And I will certainly remember him fondly at commencement when I hear the band playing.”

Aside from his time spent mentoring the award-winning COC Jazz Ensemble and lab jazz combo bands, Fischer also worked extensively with other professional orchestras and student musical groups. During his illustrious career Fischer’s compositions and arrangements were performed by jazz ensembles in high schools, colleges and professional bands and orchestras throughout the United States, Netherlands, Nova Scotia and Japan.

“His work supplying music for various bands and ensembles, publishing new jazz tunes and donating many of his pieces to the COC jazz library continued right up until he died,” said KC Manji, who succeeded Fischer as the college’s musical director in 2005. “He possessed a wealth of jazz history and knowledge from his many years having not just studied this musical form, but from having lived it.”

Indeed, Fischer’s work with the COC music department and its students never slowed, with his compositions and original arrangements featured at nearly all of the college’s annual holiday, spring and pops jazz concerts, as well as the campus’ RK Downs Jazz Festival.

In the spring of 2011, Fischer debuted his arrangement of the operetta “The Three Piggy Opera,” which was staged at COC and included a mixture of children, student and professional musicians performing a selection of classical music themes arranged in non-traditional jazz styles.

Fischer also maintained a presence in the classroom after his retirement, making guest appearances at classes, practice sessions and performances each semester — even posting his personal e-mail address on the music department’s web site for students interested in contacting him directly.

“We were really so fortunate that Dirk continued to lend his time and talents to our students,” added Manji. “I’m so very grateful for that.”

In 2010, Fischer had the opportunity to catch up with one of his most successful former students, when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy lead trumpeter Glen Marhevka was in town to play a show at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC).

“He was patient and so smart. He was amazing … he is one of the most talented arrangers I’ve ever met.” said Marhevka at the time, in reflecting about his years learning under Fischer. “He gave me passion for music and is a big reason I am here today. COC was a huge learning phase in my life, and I owe a lot to Dirk and the college.”

In addition to mentoring scores of student musicians to professional success, Fischer also produced countless original compositions and musical arrangements. Two of his most recent works will be featured at the upcoming COC spring jazz concert on Friday, March 22.

The COC music department is also in the process of planning a musical tribute to Dirk Fischer, as part of the college’s annual POPS! concert on Friday, May 3.

Following his passing, family members confirmed that Fischer had been battling colon cancer in the months preceding his death. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT LINKS
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Monday, Oct 16, 2017
CalArts School of Theater faculty Janie Geiser brings her collage film program "Double Vision" to REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Oct. 16 at 8:30 p.m.
Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Oct. 27: Star Party at COC Canyon Country Campus
Determined to transform the deeply troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to consider an independent entity that would provide guidance, oversight and accountability.
Supes Consider Entity for Probation Reform Guidance, Oversight, Accountability
Alexia Cina of Canyon Country was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a mother of six children in a head-on crash on Golden Valley Road on October 6.
Woman Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Death of Mother of 6
The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, following the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.
Nov. 4-5: 22nd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon Events
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series following Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.
Dodgers Out to Sweep Cubs in NLCS Game 4
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
High School Seniors: ‘Race to Submit’ is on for 2018 College Financial Aid
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interrupted a smash-and-grab burglary on The Old Road early Friday morning, arresting one suspect and seeking two alleged accomplices still at large.
SCV Deputies Catch Window-Smash Burglars in the Act
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Nov. 4: Local Tribe Honors 3, Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
California's Attorney General today filed a motion to compel the federal government to follow the law and pay the subsidies that millions of Americans rely on to lower the out-of-pocket costs in their insurance plans.
California AG Fights to Keep ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Santa Clarita business owners are encouraged to take the city's broadband feasibility study online survey and participate in the next phase of the study -- in-person focus groups scheduled for October 30.
Oct. 30: Focus Groups in Next Phase of City Broadband Study
The $17 billion "California WaterFix" project reached a tipping point Tuesday after a Silicon Valley water district voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach in favor of a less expensive, scaled-back version.
Silicon Valley Water Board Wants Delta Tunnels Downsized
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Maryama Nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
California Community Colleges Ramp Up DACA Advocacy
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Oct. 21: 2017 College and Career Fair at COC
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Oct. 28: Sheldon Figoten ‘Light Fields’ at COC Art Gallery
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Santa Clarita Artists Association Names Winners in 2017 Art Classic
Here is the Castaic-Val Verde Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 25 through October 1.
Crime Blotter: Arson, Burglary, Theft in Castaic-Val Verde
California and New Mexico launched a fresh challenge Tuesday against the Trump administration’s repeal of higher royalty payments to states for oil, gas and coal leases on public lands.
California, New Mexico Challenge White House Favors to Oil, Gas, Coal
Here is the Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of October 2 to October 8.
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Petty Theft in Stevenson Ranch
Here is the Canyon Country East (Zone 8) Crime Information and Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 24 through October 8, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Vehicle Theft, Burglary in Canyon Country East
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Oct. 19: CalArts’ Fantomas: Revenge of the Image Premieres in China
The CSUN women's golf team fired rounds of 306-309 and is in fourth place, just eight shots off the pace at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Seattle University Invitational at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Tacoma, WA.
CSUN Just Eight Shots Off Pace At Washington Invitational
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Spaces Director Rick Gould announces retirement. Plus, the Board of Supervisors approve mental health care improvements. Check out these stories and more tonight on SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Advanced Technology Presentation about "Careers in the Making...Design, Engineering, Fabrication and More..." in celebration of National Manufacturing Day was a huge success.
SCV Students Gain Knowledge, Advice at National Manufacturing Day
A local company is expanding its footprint in the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate business growth and another is relocating a division of its company from Sylmar.
Accurate Freight Systems Expands, Leases Space at IAC Commerce Center
The Domestic Violence Center (DVC) of Santa Clarita Valley is accepting applications for Adopt-a-Family 2017.
DVC of SCV Currently Accepting Adopt-a-Family 2017 Applications
Major Impact Theater, founded by Jill Garson and Shawnda Davis in 2014, is a non-profit theater group that specially adapts plays for performance by adults with disabilities in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Nov. 4: Major Impact Theater Presents Blunderland
California State University, Northridge will make history on Thursday, Oct. 26, by becoming the first California State University with a Sustainability Center.
Oct. 26: CSUN to Open Sustainability Center
Registration for the Purple Walk of Strength is now open.
Oct. 21: Purple Walk of Strength to Benefit Domestic Violence Center
Raising a child is a demanding job for any parent, especially when supportive resources seem to be elusive or nonexistent.
Oct. 22: CSUN Hosts Special Needs Resource Fair
College of the Canyons dominated its match vs. Bakersfield College from start to finish on Friday night, resulting in a 5-1 victory over the Renegades for the Cougars' first conference win of the season.
COC Gets First Conference Win of Season Against Bakersfield College
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Following a two-week layoff, College of the Canyons cross country was back in competition on Saturday, running with a mix of community college and Division I programs at the Sixth Annual UC Riverside Highlander Invitational.
COC Cross Country Back in Competition After Two Week Layoff