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Classical 101

Remembering Flugge, This Sunday

Remembering Mark Flugge (1962-2014)

It's been a little over a year since Columbus pianist, professor and composer Mark Flugge passed away. I sat down last week with his beloved daughter, Erika Flugge, and his brilliant wife, Lisa Jelle, to talk about this upcoming Sunday's memorial concert.

They made it abundantly clear how his students, friends and fellow musicians can best remember Mark; by sharing his music and his legacy.

Mark most recently worked as a professor of piano at Capital University and OSU while also appearing as a soloist with Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, and the Breckenridge Music Festival Chamber Orchestra in Colorado.

He directed the Jazz Series at the Columbus Museum of Art and played in various jazz ensembles in Bexley, Westerville, and the Short North. The Mark Flugge Jazz Trio was a popular fixture at Hyde Park restaurant which introduced many listeners to the Columbus jazz scene.

I first met Mark when I was studying voice at Capital University. At the ripe old age of 18, I remember him accompanying  and lightly knocking the board of the piano in rhythm and smiling as I trucked through the piece I had failed to memorize. He was nice about it.

I imagine there are thousands of stories like mine from students and musicians whom Mark inspired and instructed, and I hope to hear a few this Sunday.

"His fondest wish is that his music lives on." Lisa Jelle, wife of the late Mark Flugge

  Lisa Jelle, Mark's wife, is also a professor of music at Capital University and an established performer. She and Mark's daughter, Erika, organized last year's memorial concert. They estimate that over 500 people turned out to listen and pay tribute to the composer and educator. 

This year, the memorial concert will feature compositions of Mark's that have been arranged for Vaughn Wiester's Famous Jazz Orchestra as well as a number of soloists and combo ensembles. The 2-hour concert begins at 2 PM Sunday in Mees Hall at Capital University.

There will also be a new 2- CD set released Sunday. The limited-edition recording will feature Mark's own spoken introductions, jokes, and previously unreleased music such as the famous Bill Evan's standard, "Waltz for Debbie," as well as  photography by Erika Flugge. 

The proceeds from the CDs will go directly to the Mark Flugge Memorial Fund which provides scholarships for music students at Capital University, where he taught and inspired musicians for nearly 30 years.

Along with Sunday's concert, Mark's music is being played, expanded, and even recorded around the US. Bill Dobbins, Mark's professor at the Eastman School of Music has arranged and recorded Flugge's piece, "Might Have Been," on a new CD with three other professors from Eastman. Lisa has also planned a trip to Mainz, Germany this coming autumn to play Mark's music at the University of Mainz while Erika photo-documents the experience. When listing the various ensembles, professors, and recordings featuring her late husband's work, Lisa explained:

 "His fondest wish is that his music lives on."

And I think it is.

The Second Annual Mark Flugge Memorial Concert will be presented June 14 at Capital University's Mees Hall. The free concert begins at 2 pm and will last 2 hours, featuring soloists, combos, and the Famous Jazz Orchestra.