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Longtime COC music professor dies at 88

‘Dirk’ Fischer taught generations of college musicians

Posted: February 28, 2013 11:52 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2013 11:52 a.m.
'Dirk' Fischer in 2005 'Dirk' Fischer in 2005
'Dirk' Fischer in 2005

Longtime College of the Canyons jazz professor and music director Stewart Roussin Fischer, known to many as “Dirk,” died Monday at the age of 88.

Fischer worked in the COC music department for 28 years before retiring in 2005. He was the college’s first instructor of jazz studies and director of the college’s jazz band.

While at the college he established some long-standing traditions, including the annual jazz ensemble performance during graduation.

He helped establish the annual RK Downs Jazz Festival, a regular event that honors former COC music instructor R.K. Downs.

Born in Durand, Mich., Fischer honed his musical skills from choir and band in public schools and at church.

In a 2004 interview with The Signal, Fischer said he studied music in Minneapolis for two years before making his way westward to Los Angeles in 1959.

Even after his retirement, Fischer was a regular visitor to the COC campus, making guest appearances at performances, practice sessions and classes.

“Dirk was equally devoted to music and teaching,” said COC Chancellor Dianne Van Hook in a news release. “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.”

Though Fischer may be gone, Van Hook said, his impact will still be felt at the college.

“I will miss him greatly,” Van Hook said. “And I will certainly remember him fondly at commencement when I hear the band playing.”

Two of Fischer’s more recent works are set to be played at the COC spring jazz concert on March 22.
Additionally, the COC music department is in the process of arranging a musical tribute to Fischer as part of its annual concert May 3.



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