Skip to main content

Olly Wilson Memorial

Olly Wilson Symposium/Memorial

February 16, 2019
Hertz Hall

12:30-1 Gather and Greet

1:00-1:15 Call to Order and Welcome with Professors Cindy Cox, and Edmund Campion Department of Music, UC Berkeley

1:15 Candace Johnson, soprano – Department of Music, UC Berkeley
Michael S. Orland, Piano – Department of Music, UC Berkeley
song title: There is a Need

1:30 Robert Greenberg – Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

1:45 Anthony Kelly – Composer, Associate Professor of the Practice of Music, Duke University

2:00 Trevor Weston – Composer, Professor, Chair of Music, Drew University

2:15 Laurie San Martin  – Composer, Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, UC Davis

2:30 Tom Swafford – Violinist, Composer and Arranger

(brief pause)

3:00 Professor Ben Brinner and Professor Emerita  Bonnie Wade, Department of Music, UC Berkeley

3:15 Anthony Brown – Composer, Percussionist, Educator, and Ethnomusicologist

3:30 Steve Pond – Professor of Ethnomusicology, Cornell University

3:45 Vijay Iyer – Franklin D. And Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts, Harvard University

4:00 A film in memory of Dr. Olly W. Wilson — Produced by Bradley Berman with story and voice over by Kent Wilson

4:15 Shannon Dudley – Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Washington

4:30 Performance of Olly Wilson’s Trio for violin, cello & piano, 1976
Anna Presler – Violin
Leighton Fong – Cello, Department of Music, UC Berkeley
Allegra Chapman – Piano

4:45-6 reception in Morrison Hall

Program note: There is a Need was written in celebration of the life and artistry of his colleague and close friend, tenor WilliamBrown, who died of a sudden heart attack in October, 2005. In the works he composed for William Brown over thirty years, Wilson consciously attempted to invoke the musical substance of the Spiritual, a tradition that was critical to both of their musical personalities. The text of There is a Need was taken from a telephone greeting Bill Brown recorded on Brown’s answering machine. The piece was premiered by soprano Louise Toppin at Carnegie hall in March of 2006 at a concert in celebration of the career of William Brown.

Cosponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities

Olly Wilson

Obituary: Olly Wilson, an esteemed music professor and composer passed away peacefully on March 12, 2018 in Berkeley, CA.

Wilson was a prominent member of the UC Berkeley Music Department faculty from 1970 to 2002. He was a renowned composer and an indefatigable advocate for diversity in the Arts.

“Olly was very important for the department, for the campus, and for the study of African American music more broadly, in addition to his significant impact as a composer and professor of composition,” said Music Professor Ben Brinner. “Knowing him first as a teacher during my graduate school days, I came to consider him a mentor, a valued colleague, and a friend after I joined the Berkeley faculty.”

A native of  St. Louis, Missouri Wilson showed a keen talent for music at an early age. He attended Washington University earning his B.M. degree in music in 1959. Wilson went on to earn his M.M. degree in music composition in 1960 from the University of Illinois, then onto the University of Iowa to earn his PhD.

Following stints at Florida A&M University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Wilson joined the UC Berkeley Department of Music in 1970. He served as Chair of the department from 1993-1997.

“Olly was indeed a model for all around excellence; I have never met anyone close to his unique combination of compositional, musicological  and administrative skills,” noted Wilson’s colleague Michael Senturia, who conducted the University Symphony Orchestra from 1962-1992.

A prolific composer, musician, and scholar Wilson was a member of the The American Academy of Arts and Letters and won numerous awards and prizes including two Guggenheim fellowships and the Rome Prize. His establishment of the TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) program at Oberlin Conservatory was a pioneering accomplishment as the first-ever conservatory program in electronic music. A profoundly skilled composer, Wilson’s pieces spanned from electronic music to works for chamber ensembles and orchestra. He was commissioned by Black Music Repertory Ensemble, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, and Boston Musica Viva.

New York Times: Olly Wilson, 80, Dies; Composer Meshed African and Western Music