William Fielder, Active Faculty, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, died on September 24, 2009. Professor Fielder was a member of the Music Department, Mason Gross School of the Arts.
A memorial service will be held at 5 p.m. on October 13, 2009 at Kirkpatrick Chapel, 85 Somerset Street in New Brunswick, NJ and a tribute concert will be at 8 p.m. that same night in Nicholas Music Center, located in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center, 85 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ.
Professor William Fielder passed away on September 24, 2009 after a long illness. Professor Fielder, “Prof” as he was better known to his students, joined Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Mason Gross School of the Arts Department of Music in 1980 and remained on the faculty until his death. Fielder, with equal command over jazz and classical genres, performed with many of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Slide Hampton, B.B. King, Dinah Washington, and Kenny Burrell. As a classical performer, he appeared with many ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Symphony, as well as working on the CD and video of Baroque Duet with Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis. Fielder holds both a B.A. and M.A. from the American Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Adolph Herseth and Vincent Cichowicz, who were principal and second trumpets of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. As talented as he was as a performer, Fielder had an even greater impact as a master teacher. His students include Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Sean Jones, and Terell Stafford. Often when the success of his students was brought to his attention, Fielder would caution against complacency, saying “Never be satisfied, be gratified.” In his biographic sketch of Fielder on jazz.com, Lewis Porter recounts the story of a how a young Fielder was forced into a solo on “Cherokee” before he had fully mastered the necessary jazz art of playing the changes. He was performing with two heavy weights, Jimmy Smith and Big Joe Alexander, and it did not go well at all. As a result, Fielder sought out the advice and guidance of such greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Lee Morgan and soon mastered the technique and others as well. In the tradition of all great teachers, he took this experience and the knowledge he gained in his own career as a performer and made it his life’s work to pass the lessons he learned to future
A memorial fund is being set up in his honor at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Those wishing to donate may contact Lisa Passalacqua at 732-932-9360, ext. 515.
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