Beaufort resident heads to Olympics to perform with Clemson Jazz Ensemble

charley@beaufortgazette.comJuly 29, 2012 

Beaufort pianist Marc Fisher III is photographed in the choir room of at St. Helena's Episcopal Church on June 20. A player with Clemson University's Jazz Ensemble, Fisher will perform in London with the group during the Olympics.

JAY KARR/STAFF PHOTO

  • Clemson's Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble performances will not be broadcast, but here is where the group will be performing:

  • July 31: Jazz Ensemble to perform at Exhibition Road in London.

  • Aug. 2: Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band to perform at Weymouth Bayside Festival.

  • Aug. 3: Symphonic Band to perform at BT London Live -- Victoria Park: Mayor of London's Celebration for London during the Olympic Games.

  • Aug. 4: Jazz Ensemble and Symphonic Band to perform at Peninsula Festival in Greenwich.

Beaufort resident Marc Fisher is heading to the Summer Olympic Games in London.

Not as an athlete, but as a musician.

A rising senior and production studies in performing arts major at Clemson University, Fisher is one of the 60-member Clemson Symphonic Band and Jazz Ensemble who will perform at the Olympics.

They will perform live at four sites across London today through Saturday.

"It is getting real," said Fisher as he prepared for the group's last-minute rehearsals last week. "I'm excited to start playing today and I'm excited to travel."

"I'm also looking forward to being able to say I played in a foreign country, something not a lot of people my age have been given the opportunity to do."

The Beaufort native began playing electronic keyboard when he was 8, and took lessons during middle and high school from Lorraine Hanson in Beaufort.

The son of Marc and Valerie Fisher of Beaufort, Fisher credits his mom who played piano with his musical talents.

He first played publicly in high school in the garage band Blueberry Wolf and in the Praise Band at The Parish Church of St. Helena.

Fisher really cut his musical teeth at Beaufort High School, where he played piano under the direction of Dana Scaglione in the concert and jazz bands and in Victor Varner's Voices singing program.

"He was just the kind of kid in the classroom who would soak up everything you say," Varner said. Fisher later brought his piano and percussion skills to the program.

During a competition at Disney World, Fisher's improvised solo piano playing helped the high school jazz group win a superior rating, Varner said.

"He's a good singer and had a big solo in one of our concerts. He also won a lot of accolades for his role of the snake in the performance of 'The Jungle Book,' " he said.

Beach music and Motown were favored by guests when Fisher played with the dance band, Ocean Highway, at weddings and local parties, but he discovered a real love for jazz in high school.

"Izz) is very free and you are able to explore different styles and very open to play with others groups of musicians," he said. "You don't have to worry about a score or conductor, you can just play."

Fisher's voice and musical preferences might be familiar to students who have listened to his morning jazz radio show on WSBF-FM Clemson for the past two and a half years.

He has continued to play with combo groups and a college jazz group. This summer he has been working with a seven-man crew, providing audio support to all of the musical groups that performed at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. Before he headed to London, Fisher played with other combos all the way to New York.

While he is in London, Fisher will attend an Olympic women's volleyball competition. The group will also visit London's West End, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Piccadilly Circus.

"I am looking forward to the experience of attending the Olympics and exploring London," Fisher said.

The set list of London includes: "American Patrol," "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Take the 'A' Train," "Moanin'," "Count Bubba," "Sister Sadie," "Big Swing Face," "Birdland" and "Rhapsody in Blue."

His current influences and favorite performers are Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock, The Bad Plus, Chick Corea, Bonobo, Long Arm, Toro Y Moi and The Flaming Lips.

While Fisher visited London during a 2005 family vacation, he thinks this time around will be more enlightening.

"I am excited to return to London when I can better appreciate the culture, food, history, etc.," Fisher said.

"I'm most excited about being around London, and seeing how the Olympics work and being in a city where people are from around the world and being able to see the Olympics for the first time."

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