Jazz News & Notices

Michael Fuhrman Departs the D'Angelo Performing Arts Center
Leaving 16 Years of Glorious Memories


Michael FuhrmanLeaving Mercyhurst in his sixteenth year as Director of the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, Michael Fuhrman has spent his adult life bringing the arts to Mercyhurst and Erie through PAC.  In recent years he has brought us many major jazz artists in live performance – along with a sparkling array of dance, classical music and other performance talents.

Visiting artists have included Maria Schneider, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Regina Carter, Anat Cohen, the Four Freshmen, Eric Friedlander, Sara Gazarek, Bobby Sanabria and others.  This year’s crop includes the Count Basie Orchestra with the New York Voices, Rene Mari, Robert Cray and Kurt Elling.  An incredible legacy!

A Lifetime at Mercyhurst

Michael first came to Mercyhurst as a student.  “I came in as a 250 lb. linebacker and graduated as a 170 lb. dance major,” he laughs.  After two years in Europe, Michael returned to Mercyhurst for graduate work and worked in Admissions, including recruiting dance and English students.  He also taught dance.  He remained for the next 22 years.

“The new D’Angelo Center building was completed in 1996 , and I became its first Director.  I remember we had a staff of two full-time and one part-time person.“


Jazz at PAC

“I guess PAC jazz program was baptized when we brought in the Duke Ellington band, under his grandson’s direction, for an ‘Ellington’s 100th birthday celebration.’   I was talking with one of the trumpet players after the show, and he seemed to be expecting that Erie was pretty much a jazz wasteland.  I mentioned that Bruce Johnstone was an area musician, and his eyes lit up.  “Bruce Johnstone!’  He knew Bruce, his work with Maynard Ferguson, his recordings (“Stay Loose With Bruce”), and his perspective shifted.  And I thought , ‘Maybe we’ve got something here!’”

PAC and JazzErie

Michael spoke with appreciation of JazzErie’s “steadfast support” of his jazz programming.  He admires JazzErie’s capacity to have vigorous disagreements within its ranks, yet remained focused on its mission, and encouraged to continue to work closely with faculty and students in developing an understanding and appreciation for the music.

We'll miss your leadership and partnership, Michael.


December 14, 2011