Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

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Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Marck, Music and Memories

Chris Reed
Dave Marck talking about improvisation during jazz at the DuFresne Performing Arts Center. Marck grew up in La Crosse and performs in the area each year.

Improvisation is often looked at as a mistake, as a cover-up, as a way of making something up on the spot. For Dave Marck, it’s his life.

Marck, born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, has spent the last 40 years in New York as a professional jazz pianist, coming up with new chords, rhythms and ways to make people smile. On Tuesday, September 12, Winona State University (WSU) had the opportunity to witness him doing just that.

Marck was accompanied by longtime colleagues, Greg Balfany on saxophone, Karyn Quinn on bass and Rich MacDonald on drums. The quartet performed in the Performing Arts Center on the main stage.

Marck’s journey to jazz started off typically: playing around with instruments as a child, but then took a hard turn when he sought out other interests at an early age.

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“I took, like, three months of piano lessons when I was in third grade, but then I stopped because I wanted to be an athlete,” Marck said. “I wanted to be a Green Bay Packer, and I still do, but I think that window might be closing.”

For Marck, getting back into music was easy, and he started playing again in high school.

“I went to the local music store, bought a little keyboard, and we had a really bad rock band,”

Marck said. “But it was really loud.”

Marck’s music career really took off when he attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for college, and after a few years at school, he headed to New York, which he claimed as the ‘jazz capital of the world.’

Marck mentioned that his talent, like others, took lots of time and dedication, but it proved to be worth it.

“As you start to play and you get more into it, you have hopes of actually getting a living or at least getting paid a little bit to do it,” Marck said. “But for me, it was really just jazz music in particular. You have to specialize in something to keep getting better.”

Dr. Aaron Lohmeyer, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Winona State University and program director for music education, touched on how events like these benefit his students.

“We’re open for the university and the community as well, and it’s super cool that it’s not just a concert, but it also links in with our jazz programs,” Lohmeyer said. “Our jazz students get to have a Masterclass with these guys.”

The Masterclass allowed students to get personal time with Marck and the quartet and even learn a few tips from them.

“They talked a little bit about their own journey into jazz and overcoming the hard times where you think, ‘I don’t have it, I’m going to give up’ and what it takes to have that perseverance to go on,” Lohemeyr said. “Then we did some ear-playing, where they taught us a tune just by ear and we figured it out on the spot.”

Marck mentioned that artistry like piano requires immense passion, but he advised that every career does, too.

“You have to follow your passion and be willing to work at your passion,” Marck said. “You must be so passionate that nothing else seems to matter. Its passion combined with drive.”

For Lohmeyer and his students, seeing live concerts helps drive their passion even more, and Loymeyer touched on the importance.

“Uniquely for jazz, it’s critical,” Lohmeyer said. “The classroom is seeing it happen in front of you, and that’s where you get inspired. Without this happening, it’d be like without lectures happening in a classroom.”

One of Marck’s favorite and most memorable moments from his career was found in an extraordinary location – a nursing home.

“One experience in particular was a very dear friend’s mom is suffering from severe dementia and is basically catatonic,” Marck said. “We had this experience twice in this visit where, when I start to play, her eyes lit up, she started rocking in the chair, and she then started speaking in phrases. It could’ve been the rhythm of the jazz, but I must say, that was a very profound experience for me.”

Marck visits WSU and La Crosse annually, to put on shows like these and to reconnect with his hometown.

“Aside from the music, the driftless area is such a beautiful place,” Marck said. “I’m not sure if I appreciated it as much as I do now when I was growing up, but it is so gorgeous, and I always come for an extended period of time.”

As much as he enjoys playing, Marck mentioned that he considers these visits as a vacation.

“I always say that I ‘summer’ in La Crosse,” Marck said. “Some people go to the Hamptons, but it is such a change for me, and it’s a wonderful combination of work and play – I get to see my family and relatives and friends. I just love coming back to this area.”

Lohmeyer got up on stage with a saxophone to play alongside the quartet and conclude the concert, and he claims that for him, jazz music is freedom.

“You have an obligation to learn the past, but you have an equal obligation to push it forwards,” Lohmeyer said. “There’s this constant pressure to be changing that I find tremendous freedom in.”

Marck claimed that practicing is crucial, but nothing beats performing in front of an audience.

“It’s always fun to play, but when you have folks in the audience to complete the equation, and you feed off the energy of that, it’s truly magical.”

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About the Contributors
Reanne Weil
Reanne Weil, News Editor

Reanne Weil is a News Reporter for The Winonan and started in Spring 2023. Weil is a fourth-year at Winona State University majoring in Journalism and double-minoring in Spanish and Creative Digital Media.

In addition to working for The Winonan, Weil is a member and captain of the Division II Women’s Soccer Team at WSU. She is also a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Outside of school, Weil works remotely for her local newspaper. She loves spending her free time with her friends and family. She enjoys watching the television show Friends and Disney movies with her favorite snack, popcorn and M&M’s.

Chris Reed
Chris Reed, Photographer
Chris Reed (he/him/they/them) is currently a photographer for the Winonan.
Reed is from Golden Valley, Minnesota, right outside Minneapolis and is a first-year student at Winona State University studying psychology with a minor in photography. He enjoys helping people and making sure they feel heard.
Reed can often be found rock climbing or bouldering; hiking; camping; playing pool, ping pong or board games; practicing cello or bass; or, when time allows, on a roadtrip.

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