Transcript of Berklee College Of Music President Roger Brown’s
Official Announcement Of The Wes Wehmiller Scholarship
President Roger Brown
Berklee College of Music
Entering Student Convocation and Concert
September 9, 2005
Tonight I would like to share some thoughts about a son, brother, friend, and Berklee alumnus – Wes Wehmiller.
Wes, class of 1992, began teaching himself the bass at age 13. Having already studied classical piano from age seven, he was destined to build his life around music. While attending high school in Delaware, he was chosen for the All-State Jazz Band, and received the state’s music educators’ “Award of Distinction.” Wes was also named to the “MusicFest USA All Stars” in 1989 by Downbeat Magazine.
Wes’ early introduction to Berklee was during a summer music program similar to ones many of you sitting here this evening have attended. This particular program was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the time. Like our other summer programs, it gave us an opportunity to work with Wes and recognize his talent and subsequently award him a scholarship to attend Berklee.
Following his Berklee education, Wes moved to Los Angeles to become part of an active community of musicians, including many alumni. This taught him the importance of building connections and expanding his exposure to other musicians and music. In 1997, Wes began a four-year tour with the multi-platinum band, Duran Duran.
This gig included spots on “The Tonight Show,” “The Today Show,” “VH-1’s Storytellers,” and “Hard Rock Live.” He recorded often with other bands in the L.A. area and in Vancouver. In December 2004, Wes realized his lifetime dream gig to play with former-Frank Zappa guitarist and avant-garde solo artist Mike Keneally in San Diego.
In addition to playing music, Wes was an extraordinary photographer, working in and out of the studio. The photographs you have seen behind me tonight include shots of Wes and photos he took.
While at Berklee, Wes developed a close bond with Danny Morris, fondly known as Danny Mo, who is a bassist and member of our Bass Department faculty. Wes would often return to Berklee to teach in Danny’s “Survey of Bass Styles” class. I asked Danny to share some of his memories of Wes, to which Danny related a part of the Robert Frost poem, “Mending Wall.”
“The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But…we find them there”
Danny wrote, “You are asked to ponder the SPACE between the rocks and wonder how this space got there. Wes and I would often ponder and subsequently analyze space in music. This quest for knowledge was the bulk of our long talks together, be it in person, or later on, by phone, usually in Wes’ case from a hotel room somewhere in the world while on tour. I’ll never forget those conversations. I loved and still love Wes very, very much.”
Rich Appleman added, “Wes was quiet, even the last time we me in my office, and he had achieved lots of musical success. I find it fitting that he was a great bassist, photographer, and cyclist.
In my opinion, to be good at these activities it takes a lot of inner thought and preparation, which is why he was also a great listener. Wes fits into what Ron Carter said at this year’s graduation: ‘Nobody notices the bass player, until they stop playing.’ Well we sure are noticing Wes now. We are lucky to have memories, recordings, and photographs.”
It is for his musicianship and continued relationship with Berklee that we are talking about him tonight. Wes died of thyroid cancer on January 30th.
We’re happy that Wes’ mother, Paula Lawrence Wehmiller, and his father, John Wehmiller, were able to join us tonight. The bond with Berklee goes beyond the immediate family. Our own trustee, my personal friend, and Wes’ aunt, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Danny Mo, and Rich Appleman are here tonight. We are pleased to have many other family and friends as well.
It is my pleasure to announce the creation of the Wes Wehmiller Memorial Endowed Scholarship. We are grateful to the many family and friends who made this thoughtful tribute possible. The scholarship will be awarded under the direction of Rich Appleman, Chair of the Bass Department, and Danny Morris, to a continuing student with the assurance that it best exemplifies the talent and spirit of Wes. The recipient will be honored at an afternoon Awards Ceremony for the Performance Division on March 15, 2006. That night the winner of the scholarship will perform in a recital in memory of Wes and the many contributions he made to the music community as an electric bassist.
We will miss Wes, but we will be able to enjoy his contributions to the world of music and photography for years to come. This scholarship will be permanent reminder of his musical spirit.
Please join me in thanking the family and friends for their thoughtfulness and generosity.