YSU bands to honor the late Robert Fleming

At Stambaugh Auditorium on Nov. 19, the Dana School of Music’s Wind Ensemble and Concert Band will present “Remembering Robert E. Fleming: A Musical Tribute.”

The show is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., and it will also feature the Dana All Star Band, which is made up of alumni band members from past decades.

“The [All Star Band] is made up of alumni from as far back as the ‘60s to people who just graduated a few years ago,” said Stephen Gage, director of bands at Youngstown State University and conductor for the event.

The event is special to many band members who were moved by Robert Fleming, the director of bands at YSU from 1968 to 1984. Fleming died in December.

“He helped fortify the YSU band from the late ‘60s through 1984,” Gage said. “Subsequently, he continued to be a mentor for alumni and students in the Dana School as a conductor and a teacher of music.”

Donald W. Byo, a conductor of the Dana All Star Band and personal friend of Fleming, recommended Fleming for band director in 1968 to Charles Aurand, former dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Before coming to YSU, Fleming was the band director for Warren G. Harding High School. “He had a great impact on this school,” Byo said. “His biggest forte was communicating with all the area band directors effectively.”

Gage said he considers Fleming a personal hero.

Graduate student Eric Bable will also help conduct the concert. He said the show will be a seminal event for him.

“It’s my largest conducting stage yet, given the size of this event and what it means,” Bable said. Also conducting the show will be Brandt Payne, director of athletic bands, and Joseph Edwards, former dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Students Keith Born and Matt Ohlin, both members of the wind ensemble, said they are excited for the show as well.

Born, a second-year percussionist in the ensemble, said he enjoys seeing where Dana graduates end up after college.

“It’s incredible to see where some of the bigger names in the band end up and how good they’ve become,” Born said.

Ohlin, a clarinet player in the ensemble, praised Gage’s ability to challenge his students with new and exciting material to play and perform.

“Every year, he likes to pick at least one big piece and have us play it,” Ohlin said.

This year, Gage chose “The Pines of Rome,” an iconic 20th century composition. Though an orchestra performs the original composition, the ensemble will mimic it with their wind instruments.

“To do that makes us think about how we play our instruments musically and characteristically,” Ohlin said. “[The blending of the two] creates a unique sound.”

Tickets to the show will be available at the door; they’re $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and free for YSU students with valid ID. 

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