Wednesday, March 25, 2009

International Trumpet Guild Journal: 'Wilmer Wise: A Remarkable Life of Diversity'

[African American Trumpeter Wilmer Wise; Photo from website of The Jazz Museum in Harlem]

On March 12, 2009 AfriClassical posted “Wilmer Wise Performs at Baltimore's Morgan State University Sunday, March 22, 2009”. We received a comment from John McLaughlin Williams (JMW), an African American conductor and violinist who has made 10 recordings and won a 2007 Grammy Award: “After seeing today's post on Wilmer Wise, I thought to ask you if you might get him to give you a detailed exposition of his life in music. Probably most of the younger crew have not heard of him. I certainly had not till I saw him on your site. (One more great thing you do with AfriClassical!) I'm sure many of us would love to hear about his studies and his life in the Baltimore SO. What do you think? Best, JMW”

Wilmer Wise kindly sent us some articles. He also wrote: “Here is part of The Making of West Side Story -” In four and a half minutes, we see and hear Leonard Bernstein conducting a rehearsal of a dance scene with characteristic emotion and verve, with Wilmer Wise performing on trumpet.
Another link leads to a transcript of a telephone interview on a website of Johns Hopkins University:

Sounds & Stories: The Musical Life of Maryland's African American Communities
Oral History: Transcript. Interview No. SAS4.00.02 Wilmer Wise (telephone interview) Interviewer: Glenn Quader. Location: Baltimore, Maryland. Date: April 2002.
“I’m speaking with Wilmer Wise. He’s now a resident of New York, and was an instrumental person here, no pun intended, in Baltimore. [What] I’d like to do is ask you first what was your first real involvement in here in Baltimore? Wise: I joined the Baltimore Symphony in 1965. I was the first black musician to occupy a chair in the Baltimore Symphony. I also at the same time became an adjunct professor at Morgan State College – University now. Q: And that was teaching the trumpet? Wise: Teaching the trumpet. Q: And how long were you with the Baltimore Symphony? Wise: From the years of 1965 to 1970, through the five seasons.”

International Trumpet Guild Journal
By Laurie Frink
October 2005 – Page 39
“Wilmer Wise, born and raised in Philadelphia, has had a magnificent career. From the beginning he was involved in all kinds of music, some of his fellow Philadelphians being Lee Morgan, Vince Penzarella, Ted Curson, Bobby Timmons, Tony Marchione (teacher of Randy Brecker), and Reggie Workman, to name a few. He has played with the Dick Clark Youth Band, The Intruders, the Club Harlem Band of Atlantic City, performed the Haydn Concerto (at age 23) with the Philadelphia Orchestra, played principal trumpet in the first Music from Marlboro tour of Europe, recorded with Pablo Casals, played lead trumpet in the only recording of West Side Story conducted by Leonard Bernstein, played five seasons with the Baltimore Symphony as assistant principal, served on the faculties of Morgan State and the Peabody Conservatory, performed with the New York Philharmonic, the American Symphony, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, (35 years as principal) recorded most of the Philip Glass movie soundtracks, and played lead trumpet in more than 30 Broadway Shows, including five Stephen Sondheim hits.”

“Frink: Was the climate in the orchestra relaxed about you being there? Wise: No. A fellow came up to me and showed me a picture of an Aunt Jemima kind of woman with a bandana. I looked at him and in my best South-Philadelphian demeanor, and said 'You better get the f*** outta my face before I kick your a**' and he said, 'Oh, excuse me.' (laughing) He left me alone after that. It was about establishing territory. I went to the bar across the street from the Lyric Theatre and they told the musicians I was with 'tell the black guy we don't serve his kind here.' Frink: This is in 1965? Wise: Uh huh, so the guys that were drinkers boycotted the bar and the owner realized he was losing serious money so he welcomed me with open arms. He sent a personal invitation, 'Please come back.' This was Baltimore in the 1960s. Frink: So there were some people in the orchestra who were friendly and... Wise: And there were some who were not. If they could have burned a cross on stage, there are some that would have done it.”

1 comment:

Strawberryyog said...

A fantastic piece about a true star. Thank you.