In Memoriam: Dr. Paul W. Whear

Current and former faculty members and students from Marshall’s School of Music mourn the loss of Professor Emeritus Dr. Paul. W. Whear (left), a renowned composer and professor of music theory and composition, who passed away last week at the age of 95.

He retired from Marshall about 30 years ago, having directed the University Orchestra and being the founding conductor of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra.

“He was a terrific teacher and a great conductor,” said colleague Dr. Don Williams, also a professor emeritus at Marshall. “His music is in the Library of Congress. At one time, he was an active composer and his work was known worldwide.”

Dr. Wendell Dobbs, interim dean of the College of Arts and Media, performed under Whear in the Huntington Chamber Orchestra, the predecessor of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. “We performed many, many times at the Huntington Museum of Art (then Huntington Galleries) to very appreciative audiences,” Dobbs said. “In 1999, Paul composed his Celtic Concerto for solo flute and orchestra. I premiered this work with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. It’s a wonderful work. Paul knew I was a great lover of Irish traditional music, so I was thrilled to get to perform as the soloist.”

Whear is survived by two grown children, Cynthia Whear, who has worked as an occupational therapist in Baltimore, and Dr. Allen Whear, a performing cellist and music professor who has split time between the United States and Canada.

As a composer, Whear won several prizes and distinctions, including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the ASCAP Award. His compositions have been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Philharmonic, the U.S. Navy Band and many others. He was also a National Patron of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity.

His work, “The Chief Justice,” was performed by Marshall’s Department of Music at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1976 as part of the U.S. bicentennial observance.

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Photo: Dr. Paul Whear (highlighted) bows to the audience after the performance of “The Chief Justice” at the Kennedy Center in 1976.