I didn’t find out until December that Newt had passed on, and would like to say a few things about this remarkable friend. We both went to New England Conservatory, and as he was a grad student when I was an undergrad, I looked up to him as a kind of mentor, admiring the variety of skills that he had, his leadership ability, musicianship, imagination, and sheer intellectual brilliance. We kept in touch over the years, and as I live in Northern California, I would on several occasions, stop by his Santa Barbara home with my wife Kathy on the way to Los Angeles and spend a night there, having dinner and chatting (he preferred eating at home and would not let me take him to a restaurant). Every one of those visits was special, as were all my encounters with Newt over the years. His energy and fascination with life was contagious, and I always left a bit more informed about one thing or another (be it steam engines, a Bach cantata, a bawdy story, etc.). Besides his ability to express himself, Newt always listened to what others had to say- with his usual intense concentration.
He was truly an important, supportive, and lovable friend in my life, and will always remain in my thoughts.
Every Christmas morning for the past 27 years, Newt Wayland has joined our family for lox and bagels and a Christmas concert. It started out simply enough with 8 year-old Nina plunking out “Twinkle Twinkle” on the violin, accompanied by her rock-and-roll dad on piano. Newt listened respectfully, and followed with an age-appropriate story about the music she had just played. Each year the concert got a little better and a little longer as Nina progressed on the violin and little Mitchell began playing trombone and subsequently piano. One year Nina sang a vocal piece. Newt raised his eyebrows, leaned forward, and asked if she would sing something else. He then assuredly remarked she was a singer – he turned out to be right. Year after year Newt sat there, his cringe evolving into pleasure in an annual stop-motion film as Nina and Mitchell both completed degrees in music performance and Nina married Jeff, an accomplished french hornist.
We always cherished and looked forward to Newt’s presence, for he shared his vast understanding and knowledge of music, composers, and instruments. He told stories and shared fascinating, little-known facts which related to the performance with such honest enthusiasm. It was the highlight of my Christmas, that little neighborly concert. And Newt wholeheartedly enjoyed witnessing Nina and Mitchell’s musical progression and development, from the plunking to the professional musicians they are today.
Our family is growing. Last Christmas, two year-old Rhys was playing with a newly opened toy. When Newt walked in the door, Rhys’ mouth flew open and he exclaimed, “Thank you Santa, THANK YOU, SANTA.” Newt roared with laughter. This year, three year-old Rhys has asked Santa for a trombone . . . and so it goes . . . I am deeply saddened that Newt will not get to witness a new generation’s progression – but perhaps, wherever he is, he is relieved!
I, too, THANK YOU, NEWT, for being a good neighbor to me and my family; for taking on the thankless job of managing road issues; for caring about what was best for the majority of the homeowners; for the many, many volunteer hours you spent solving problems and getting quotes, making arrangements, and sending out notifications. You never did anything half-heartedly. You were fully invested! You were honest and forthright . . . one never had to guess what you were thinking. You were brilliant . . . a bit of a curmudgeon with a big personality and a soft heart.
The applause this year will be two hands quieter. We will miss your wisdom and guidance greatly.
Awestruck was I at Santa Barbara High School. Here was this guy who was an upperclassman… He had it all… Looks, musical talent, and scholastic ability. But he was NICE to others.
His father was my first pediatrician and my mother would some times return from shopping to tell me about what Newt was currently involved with because she would see Newt’s mother, Dr. Hart.
I just watched from a distance until years later I was mortified that my younger son was having trouble playing the piano after having studied locally for YEARS. Newt had returned to Santa Barbara and I called him to ask if he had a suggestion about helping my son. To my delight he said, ‘I think I can take that on.’ What a joy for us to be so blessed. After all those years of admiring Newt from afar my family and I got to know him and he turned things around for my son.
And just about the best concerts I’ve ever attended were his Gershwin concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl and the New Year’s Eve Pops concert at the Arlington with the Santa Barbara Symphony.
I along with many other parents had amazing Adventures in Music with Newt in the 1970’s in the Boston area. The format was always the same. We put on four one-hour concerts a year in each of four local high school auditoriums, on Saturdays and Sundays. It was a huge organization staffed by large groups of volunteers for selling tickets, filling the auditoriums and organizing the children. We sold about 11,000 tickets each year. Newt took on the task of keeping children’s attention when they were only 5 to 10 years old; though he had no children of his own he had a great understanding of children. Perhaps his wild humor was from the child in himself. His predecessor in these concerts had tried to play movements from Mozart symphonies – it was a total bust for young children. Newt saw that it had to be visually as well as aurally engaging. We couldn’t use a full orchestra for more than one of the four performances; the others were things like puppet shows with taped music of “Scheherazade” that created a cash surplus. But the shows with the orchestras were amazing and meticulously timed to one hour – the musicians were instructed to walk out if the time was up, even during the applause.
All of the school music-teachers received notes and tapes of the music we would be using. The teachers were asked to select promising students who would share a music stand with a professional musician in the final concert. I remember Newt banging the music stand with his baton if the kids weren’t paying attention and telling them “this is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship”. We often had dancing; again the teachers selected promising children and they were costumed and trained by the parents.
My own job (I’m an engineer) was technical manager. I built many props like a Gypsy wagon and a gazebo, which had to be capable of being broken down quickly and transported inside my old Volvo station wagon for the next day’s show. I think I must have carried thousands of music stands. Newt stressed American music. We did Gottschalk’s “Cakewalk” , Copeland’s “Rodeo” and Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti”, all with great gusto and enthusiasm. We did Saint-Saen’s “Carnival of the Animals” with the children parading around in a gymnasium as different beasts. We did a percussion concert “Bing, Bang, Bong” with Fred Buda and every conceivable percussion instrument; we used a Caribbean steel drum band from Boston. We did “Peter and the Wolf” where the children submitted hundreds of pictures of Peter, the Wolf and Grandfather, and waited enraptured to see if their picture appeared as the musical story was told. There were so many Peters and many wolves.
It’s hard to capture the exhilaration of these days; we took on crazy amounts of work inspired by Newt’s unflagging drive and enthusiasm; we had enormous fun. When Newt moved to Santa Barbara my wife and I kept in touch and visited him there a few times – once even made a lemon meringue pie with him from lemons plucked off the trees outside. The last time we saw Newt was in August this year, only a few weeks before he died. Even in a hospital bed he was as feisty as ever. He was a wonderful friend and we will miss his spirit enormously.
I just learned of Newt’s death in a monthly newsletter from the Boston Musicians Association. It saddened me. I met Newt when I joined the Boston Symphony in 1970, and we worked together in Pops for a number of seasons over the following years. My memories are not specific and therefore not very funny, but in general, we would dine together and laugh uncontrollably, both between sessions and afterwards. I do not recall the name of the little restaurant/bar at the corner of Mass. Ave and St. Botolph St. but it was a constant destination for a group of us during the Pops season. We were working so much that there was not time to go home, so we hung out there, then returned to the stage. All I can remember is that I was young, and Newt was hysterically funny. I do not recall his “wife/girlfriend”‘s name, but there was someone I think.
About the only memory which always followed me was the fact that I lived in Newton, MA and it bordered Wayland, MA, so every time I took the Rt. 128 exit by that name, I always thought of Newt. I am sure he must have gotten some milage out of the reality when he lived in the Boston area. As all the tributes note, his career blossomed after leaving Boston, and I never saw him again, but never forgot him. I am not surprised at all his successes and the joy he obviously brought to so many. Please add my name to the very long list of people he touched and to whom he brought a smile.
If I be the first of us to die,
Let grief not blacken long your sky. Be bold yet modest in your grieving. There is a change but not a leaving. For just as death is part of life, The dead live on forever in the living, And all the gathered riches of our journey, The moments shared, the mysteries explored, The steady layering of intimacy stored, The things that made us laugh or weep or sing, The joy of sunlit snow or first unfurling of the spring, The wordless language of look and touch, The knowing, Each giving and each taking, These are not flowers that fade, Nor trees that fall and crumble, Nor are they stone, For even stone cannot the wind and rain withstand And mighty mountain peaks in time reduce to sand. What we were, we are. What we had, we have. A conjoined past imperishably present. So when you walk the woods where once we walked together And scan in vain the dappled bank beside you for my shadow, Or pause where we always did upon the hill to gaze across the land, And spotting something, reach by habit for my hand, And finding none, feel sorrow start to steal upon you, Be still. Close your eyes. Breathe. Listen for my footfall in your heart. I am not gone but merely walk within you.
Found in Nicholas Evans book The Smoke Jumper, page 312
There is so much to say in tribute to Newt. I’ll just mention a few things.
I will always be inspired by his love for learning, especially evident after he had retired from his conducting career. For that matter, Newt gave me a great gift in being an example of seeing retirement as an opportunity to pursue even deeper one’s chosen interest, now without deadlines and other practical constraints. He will always symbolize for me the scholarly life — full of the pleasure, excitement, enthusiasm and passion of learning, thinking, digesting, analyzing and verbalizing knowledge and insight. I loved to listen to him expound on any topic; his mind was organized, and I always felt he had an ability to lay the considerations out in correct perspective.
My Dad was the personnel manager of the Boston Symphony and said hiring Newt as an extra player was a breath of fresh air. The common notion among free-lance players around Boston was that if Bill Moyer called you to sub for the BSO or the Pops, you’d better say yes because otherwise he won’t bother calling you the next time. Dad told me that whenever he called Newt, the first thing out of Newt’s mouth was “What’s the repertoire?” and if he didn’t like the music, Newt would say “Nah, find someone else.” I know that impressed and delighted my Dad and he called Newt over and over.
Newt was a boisterous spirit. One of my gigs with him was a week playing Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody with the Minnesota Orchestra. He complained that I didn’t smile after we were through. He solved the problem one night. After finishing, I stood up, walked to the podium to shake Newt’s hand. He leaned over and told me (of course no one could hear because of the applause) “You’ve got a bugger coming out of your nose.” That totally took me out of my “artistique” mind, and I couldn’t help but smile broadly.
Just months before he died, Newt wrote me a long letter affirming what I am doing with my life, playing mainly at retirement communities, and avoiding the distractions of bigger concerts. His letter showed thought, sincerity and friendship. I will always treasure this letter. On other occasions, he would literally stop to appreciate something I did or said. They say people may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Newt made me feel appreciated, and I’ll always remember that with gratitude.
Newt analyzed everything! His first love was music. He analyzed every note, every score, and every composer. He told me he was a musicologist more than a musician.
We enjoyed season tickets to local theater, where he analyzed every script, plot, actor and playwright and of course the musical score.
Then, of course, there were certain PBS series – History of English, Jazz and John Adams with George and Laurie. George and Newt loved to teach all things. Shakespeare was a favorite for Newt’s just as history was for George. He and his study-buddy, Joyce, studied just about everything. Newt was particularly fascinated by studying brain functions and how they related to personality.
Newt was especially fond of food and the man loved to cook! He could taste just about anything and tell you what every ingredient/spice was. He was always happy to share the fruit from his many fruit trees.
He was fascinated by nature, geology and botany. He loved watching and attracting birds to his feeders. He admired every sunset overlooking the ocean from his balcony porch.
He was a smart and interesting man and I’ll miss him very very much!
The wet run-by in the video on this site is the steam train at Fillmore, CA. I was with Newt that day & other train days as we shared a romance with the “iron horse”. On the Fillmore train, we enjoyed a lovely ride through the country-side. Let off in the rain so we could film, we were treated to a full-on, smoke stack billowing, run by. We got wet but it was worth it.
We shared such times as “Rail Fair” 1999, in Sacramento and chasing our favorite Baldwin steam engine, 3751, through the Mojave Dessert in August. It was always an adventure with Newt, he made the times come alive & gave me some incredible memories that I will always treasure. Thank you Newt.
Newt and I met some 45 years ago in Boston when he got me involved in his children’s concert project, ”Adventures in Music”. We lost touch for a while when I moved to Santa Barbara, until he returned to his old lair here, unbeknown to me.
I had not looked at the program yet, but my children were already deep into the Santa Barbara Symphony’s yearly Christmas performance of the “Nutcracker”. And there on the podium was this witty diminutive Santa Claus bouncing around in his white tux. It could only be Newt. Backstage, in line to greet this conductor, he spotted me and roared “Shit Pete, come on up here”. Nothing had changed!
And so we hiked the backcountry trails for years, and solved all the world’s problems – especially concerning the superiority of us alpha-males.
The attached photograph was not of Halloween, but the consequence of some debate we had on a related subject. I still have those exchanges with him today.