On March 14, 2007, the Wes Wehmiller Endowed Scholarship at Berklee College of Music was awarded to Claire Finley, a rising seventh-semester bassist from Iowa. Claire, who is the second recipient of the scholarship, received her award from Bass Department Chairman, Rich Appleman, and Wes’ mentor, colleague and friend, Danny Morris, in a spirited afternoon luncheon ceremony. That evening Claire teamed up with Danny Mo and “Crew” in a wonderful musical event. Here is a message from Danny Mo describing the the evolving spirit of the east and west coast scholarship events:
A Shout Out from Danny Mo
The 2007 Wes Wehmiller scholarship was awarded to Berklee bass student Claire Finley. She performed at Danny Mo’s jam in Boston on the night of March 14. The previous week in LA, 2006-award recipient Will Snyder performed with me in Hollywood at an event called WesFest2. These recipients are chosen by Chairman of the bass department Rich Appleman and myself. The qualifications of the award recipient are summarized by their musicianship, spirit, visibility around campus as a performer, and their potential to carry on the tradition of my former student and colleague, Wes Wehmiller.
Wes possessed many special qualities as a musician. Most visible was the ability to light up a song thru his bass parts. I recently played a track from a Tom Langford cd with Wes on bass for my Survey of Bass Styles class. Upon the song’s conclusion, I asked the class to describe what they heard. John Wehmiller, Wes’ dad, in attendance at this class, commented after hearing the students speak that they all described Wes’ personality so clearly. This power of the medium, to be able to get a concise and clear picture of one’s being thru the bass part of a pop/ rock tune is profound. In fact, many aspects of this scholarship are so special. Not only is music being performed and shared by folks who knew and loved Wes, but also those who had never had an association prior to these events are experiencing his beauty.
The spirit in LA was powerful and joyous. Bryan Bellar commented to the crowd following a video presentation that there was no sadness in the house. I would say the mood was that of optimism and life with Wes serving as beacon. This beacon of light, hope and desire thru music is Wes’ spirit. Will Snyder and Claire Finley are honorable and scholarly students who can forward this mission of hope thru music. Reverend Paula Wehmiller, Wes’ mom said to my wife Jacqui during the show in Boston, “there’s humanity up on that stage tonight.” Lots can be brought into a statement like that. I was overjoyed with the sentiment. See you all next year at Wesfest3 in LA and/or at Danny Mo’s Jam in Boston. You are on the guest list already. As I said in the advertisement for the show, “your spirit will be moved by this event.”