Will Davis and Wayne Shorter Speak to Berklee's Class of 1999

By
Rob Hochschild
May 8, 1999

Will Davis:

For many seated here today, this commencement marks one of life's milestones. For the graduates and their families, it marks the end of another chapter in the story of your lives. For faculty and administration, this occasion brings a sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that another class of gifted and dedicated musicians is taking an important step closer to the realization of their dreams. The members of the board of trustees take pride welcome your accomplishments. Trusteeship at Berklee involves caring for one of the world's most precious educational resources. It allows us to play a part in this great enterprise and in the passing of the baton to the next generation of boundary-breaking music professionals. We are impressed by what you have accomplished and excited about what you are setting out to do. I know that the individuals in this hall today will make significant contributions to the life and culture of our times.

Wayne Shorter:

[To you] people graduating, it would be advisable to keep some of your first compositions or homework assignments just as Mahler did. You never know what is going to happen to them because you think they have something to do with music. But for me, I kept a composition all of these years. When I recorded it recently on One Plus One—it's called "Ensemble Chic"—I found out that it had nothing to do with music. So at this point when I am asked what am I writing or what am I going to do, I say I am celebrating life, celebrating eternity. Music is (even less of?) a vehicle for that mystical law. It's incomprehensible. So, I can't feel what I am doing as my life, it's my profession. My life is my life. What affords [enables] me to go on in the face of the unexpected—something I am still working on—is a deep faith in the existence of eternity. Many of the compositions I am working on now are like breadcrumbs that lead me to all of my loved ones who [have] left. Then, there is a greater adventure after that. Thank you.