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Simon Rowe leaves lasting impression in Fargo-Moorhead jazz scene

Simon Rowe has been a regular sight to music majors for the past seven years at MSUM. Soon Rowe will be leaving to become the executive director of the prestigious Brubeck Institute in the University of Pacific, Stockton, Calif.

Rowe found out about the position in March and hesitantly threw in his application. After a whirlwind of phone interviews, trips to the institute and a trip to meet jazz legend Dave Brubeck, he was offered the job.

When Rowe turned in his application, he didn’t have much confidence that it would go anywhere. However, after several months of waiting, he was offered the position.

“It was a long process and one that I, all the time I thought, I was a dark horse, an outside chance,” Rowe said. “What I imagined appealed to the search committee and the university was that I’ve had experience in the private sector, in teaching and in playing. Having all three components was attractive to them.”

NICOLE AFFORD - affordni@mnstate.edu

Rowe originally came from Australia. He has been traveling back and forth between Australia and the United States ever since then. When he first came to the Unites States it was to pursue the trumpet but he soon switched over to jazz piano and eventually began playing with his mentor, saxophonist, Willie Akins.

He has held the position of associate professor of music as well as the coordinator of music industry and has worked in jazz studies and jazz piano. He has had many accomplishments but he is very proud of the Tri-College Jazz Combo. This group takes students from the three colleges and places them in groups of equal ability. Faculty from the three universities then coach them. This group has shown their talent by garnering awards at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival.

“This program has helped us across the community,” Rowe said. “It allows students to go to a university with an enrollment of 24,000 instead of the three separate campuses. I also think it allows students to develop friendships and associations across the campuses.”

Rowe has had an influential role at MSUM but also the community as well. Rowe helped develop the jazz scene at Studio 222 in downtown Fargo and has played at Hotel Donaldson in the past. He has developed a legacy in the area and hopes it will continue.

“I would be thrilled if the energy we created in the music department around the jazz studies area and around the music industry area would continue to flourish,” Rowe said. “Not just within the university or tri-college but out into a larger regional community. We have made an impact community wide, and I would like to see that to continue to grow.”

After all these years, Rowe has left a jazz legacy in the F-M area that will be felt for years. He’s leaving MSUM without regrets.

“My rule of thumb through life is to create momentum and energy and community wherever I land,” Rowe said. “I’ve done this in the central Midwest, the northern Midwest and Australia. The idea is you leave your mark by making a community richer and by encouraging those around you to continue on with their own version of building community.”

After all the years at MSUM Rowe has a few final words to leave for the school.

“I’ve been delighted to have spent some time here working with students, and I feel privileged to be a college professor and to work with students at this really important time of their formation,” Rowe said. “I wish my friends and colleagues all the best. I will not be a stranger here. I will be back often.”

BY ANDREW JASON
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