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A TRIBUTE TO DAVID WESSEL

We encounter, in the course of our lives, many. But also few. Some categories have only one occupant. David Wessel felt unique. He had a singular ability to catalyze creative awareness and growth, whatever the circumstances. Of course, he was an omnivorous learner. The range of his knowledge – embraced convection oven cookery and mental disability, centered upon everything that could influence our experience of sound. This capaciousness of mind was disconcerting. I encountered him at Ircam in the early 1980s. He seemed almost magical, a migratory bird, a stork of the intellect who delivered bundles of useful insight and perspective both inevitably, and inexhaustibly. It was like this: the geometry of Ircam involves several levels of offices and studios. Different (often very) individual researchers and teams inhabit these spaces. David followed a meandering path through the facility that resulted, for the occupants of each space, in unexpected visits. One day he would appear. He wanted to know what you were up to, what difficulties you might be having, what discoveries were emergent. He was a gifted listener in that he grasped quickly what the center of the situation was – whether all was well or whether components in the mix needed to be realigned in some way so as to become more productive. He gave away insights, references, parallels, enabling connectivities, proposals for action in a prodigious way. Then – suddenly realizing that something else called he would exclaim (It always seemed genuine.), “I’ll be right back!”, exit the space and continue his unknowable route through “the house”. His return could easily be weeks later, but he would pick the discussion up where it had been left as though it had only been a few minutes. Anyone who knew David could tell story after story of ways in which his zest for life, for ideas, for experience, and for the tenderly caramelized pleasures of food and drink and companionship was made manifest for them. (I remember the perilous elasticity of the ancient floors in his rue Quincampoix apartment, and the delicious experience of enduring Syberberg’s 5-hour Parsifal with him.) David made not one but many impacts on my life for which I will be always and deeply grateful. His accomplishments, as a person, as an actor in this pageant of life we inhabit are to be admired and remembered for themselves but also because of the generosity of mind and spirit that they displayed. Always.

  ~ Roger Reynolds, 14 October 2014, Del Mar



Listen to Wessel's Future of Music Talk Here