Thursday, May 26, 2011
[Maestro Warren George Rock Wilson]
AfriClassical is pleased to add SUITE SOUNDS of the New York Amsterdam News to its Favorite Websites, at the suggestion of Alicia Hall Moran.
Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2011
By ALICIA HALL MORAN
“Maestro Warren George Rock Wilson was born on Oct. 21, 1934, to Anita Medora and Vincent G. Wilson. "My mother told me I could do anything I wanted to do-and I believed her," Wilson was fond of saying. Citing his mother's staunch conviction of his musical genius-he's been a prizewinning pianist since early youth-and his father's rigid authority, Wilson credited a dogged insistence on musical excellence to his upbringing. On May 9, at the age of 76, he passed on at Mount Sinai Hospital after a long illness.
“Warren Wilson was, by anyone's standards, a genius. At the Boys Choir of Harlem (Choir Academy of Harlem), where Wilson taught, conducted and chaired the voice department, he was known as 'Maestro.' Gila Goldstein, concert pianist and a beloved accompanist with the choir, marveled at her former colleague. 'Every single one of his bones breathed music...He cared about, knew and felt every note and every word of every song. He was a perfectionist and a true artist with a large soul. Numerous students were blessed by that knowledge and by his passion.'
“Wilson attended the Juilliard School on scholarship, studying with Adele Marcus. Further study took him to Paris with Pierre Bernac and Aspen with Darius Milhaud. His performance resumé sparkles with recitals at the White House, opera conducting abroad and opera directorship at Boston University (nine years and 27 operas), and considerable work in chamber music with the David Ensemble, in addition to accompanying singers of the highest order.
“In a favorite anecdote of late opera singer Shirley Verrett, whom Wilson accompanied, sumptuously, on piano for 45 years on the world's most grand stages, Wilson drank from a supposed 'White Only' drinking fountain while on recital tour through the Jim Crow South. Upon query, Wilson quipped, 'I just wanted to know what white water tastes like.'
“He got down to brass tacks. With wit, level-headedness, danger and self-determination, Wilson talked to us about Johannes Brahms and Hale Smith, W.A. Mozart and Adolphus Hailstork. To learn Schubert's 'Die Junge Nonne' ('The Young Nun') at his piano and see electricity exude from each cell of his body was as spectacular a lesson in music and life as you were bound to have.” [Hale Smith (1925-2009) and Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941) are profiled at AfriClassical.com]