Off the Clock: Stephen Fancher, Piano Man
"The last time we performed, we raised $300."
BY DAY, STEPHEN FANCHER is a financial adviser with MLC & Associates. By night, at least a couple of nights a month, he and business partner Bart Lowther tap into their inner lounge entertainers at Michael’s On East’s bar as the piano and vocal duo, MLC Sharp. (“Pop songs, Sinatra, Billy Joel, the Beatles,” Fancher says.) When their tip jar fills, they donate the proceeds to the nonprofit Children’s Healthy Pantry. “The last time we performed, we raised $300,” he says.
A former New York City-based classical pianist and conductor who taught music in Stamford, Conn., for eight years—he was Stamford’s Teacher of the Year in 2012—Fancher moved to Sarasota two years ago with his young family to join brother-in-law Brian Mariash in the financial services industry.
The grueling schedule of teaching five choruses, an after-school music program and before-school guitar program and being music director of a large Chappaqua, N.Y., church with several choirs and concert series was playing havoc with his young family, especially around the holidays. “My first daughter was born in 2010, and I missed her first Christmas and a lot of important events along the way,” he says.
Fancher says the leap to financial services was not really such a stretch. “I use my teaching skills in a different way,” he says, “because the biggest part of my job as a financial adviser is teaching. It’s a complicated subject just like music is, and you have to make it understandable.”
Now, besides his lounge act, Fancher is a member of Sarasota’s Key Chorale. And he says there’s always music at work. Mariash is a former music teacher, too, and so are many in their financial team. ■ By Ilene Denton