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Colleagues will pay tribute to influential band leader



Published: Thu, March 15, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

The late Robert E. Fleming — a musical force in the area for half a century — will be honored with a special concert Sunday at Packard Music Hall in Warren.

Fleming died on Christmas day but left a lasting mark.

He came to Warren in 1958 as director of bands at Harding High School and established a program there that became a model statewide. He moved on to the same post at Youngstown State University, bringing his visual and musical flair to that marching band.

Fleming then went to Hiram College, where he was a professor and director of bands. He retired from teaching in 1993 but remained active as a guest conductor, adjudicator and private teacher who always lent a hand wherever he could.

Fleming also was an integral part of the W.D. Packard Concert Band, which he joined in 1959 as a trumpeter. He became co-conductor in 1983 and also directed the Big Band Sound of Packard, as well as the Jazz Quintet and Dixieland Band. He retired from the Packard musical family in 2004.

Thomas Groth, executive director of the Packard Band, knew Fleming since 1958 and learned much from him. “Much of what I did while director of bands at Boardman High was directly related to what I learned from Mr. Fleming,” he said. He called his late friend a true innovator.

The Memorial Concert in Celebration of the Life of Robert Fleming will be at 3 p.m. at Packard Music Hall, and will include some of Fleming’s favorite works. Admission is free.

Donald W. Byo will conduct Sunday’s concert. He will be joined by guest conductors Joseph Edwards, retired director of the Dana School of Music at YSU; Stephen L. Gage, director of bands at YSU; and Robert Jorgenson, director of bands at University of Akron.

Guests include soprano Dana Victor; percussionist Joseph Parlink; bagpiper Brian Crites; Frank Cosenza, Terry Gale and Ken Young, the Packard trumpets; and a brass choir comprised of friends, colleagues and former students of Fleming.

THEATER-GOERS HEED ‘SOUND OF MUSIC’ AT MAIN STREET

Crown Theater Productions is pleasantly surprised with the public reception of its current production, “The Sound of Music.”

It sold 540 tickets over three shows last weekend, and a school performance scheduled for 10:30 a.m. today has sold out all 440 seats at Main Street Theater in Columbiana.

The family-friendly theater company was formed a year ago. The beautiful Main Street Theater is its home stage.

Crown will present “The Sound of Music” again at 2 p.m. today for senior citizens. Then there are three more public performances: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $13 ($10 for children under 10) and are available at brownpapertickets.com and at the door.

Remaining shows on Crown’s 2012 season are: “Man in the Iron Mask,” May 11-13, 18-20; “Arsenic and Old Lace,” Aug. 10-12, 17-19; “The Delivery,” Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 2-4; and “A Christmas Carol,” Nov. 30-Dec. 2 and Dec. 7-9. Season passes for all five shows are available for $50 at the theater through Sunday.

Crown also has free family bingo and movie nights at the theater. The next one is March 24 at 6:15 p.m. Go to crowntheaterproductions.org.

TRAGEDY AT CEDARS BRINGS OUT THE BEST AND THE WORST

The sudden death of guitarist Matthew Smith — founder of Zanesville-based rock band Marbles for Eyes — at Cedars Lounge on Saturday night was a tragic and shocking turn of events.

Smith’s band had just finished an opening set for The Zou when he collapsed and then died of what appears to be a heart problem. Marbles for Eyes is unknown in the Youngstown area, but Cedars had a large crowd that night, as is usually the case when The Zou plays.

The Zou decided not to perform out of respect for the fallen Smith, which prompted more than a few people to ask for their money back (the $5 cover charge). And that is also something of a tragedy.

On the bright side, some patrons actually increased what they paid at the door to give to Smith’s grieving bandmates and family.


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