Allen Whear (1957–2022)
Though based in New York City, Paul “Allen“ Whear toured the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia extensively throughout his life as a baroque cellist. He was associate principal cellist of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra from 2000 and artistic director of Pro Musica Rara, Baltimore, Maryland’s premier early music ensemble from 2003. He was also principal cellist and recital director of the Carmel Bach Festival in California. He taught baroque cello, bass and viola da gamba at the University of North Texas (UNT) College of Music from 2010, and baroque cello at Tafelmusik’s Baroque Summer Institute. His New York performances included accompanying friend and mentor Anner Bylsma for the New York Cello Society, for GEMS’s memorial concert for Anner Bylsma, numerous appearances on the Midtown Concerts series, and Christmas Eve programs at Grace Church.
Born into a musical family -- his father was American composer/conductor Paul W. Whear (d. 2021) and his mother a violinist -- he began cello lessons at the age of 6. After graduating from Interlochen Arts Academy and receiving their Young Artists Award (1975), he completed his bachelor's degree at New England Conservatory (1979) studying with Laurence Lesser. While attending NEC, he met his future wife Cynthia Roberts, the well-known baroque violinist and professor at Juilliard and UNT.
Many don’t know of his connections with the tri-state area. He was raised in Huntington, WV and joked with us that in the family travels out east, they looked forward to stopping in Cumberland, “where civilization started” and they could get a copy of the NY Times. One of the first positions that he and Cynthia accepted was at Shenandoah Conservatory and they also played in the Maryland Symphony for a short while.
After completing his master’s degree at Juilliard (1981) studying with Claus Adams, he was the recipient of an ITT International Fellowship studying with Anner Bylsma in Amsterdam. Whear also obtained a doctorate from Rutgers University (1992), studying with Bernard Greenhouse.
Whear performed as soloist with many ensembles, including Tafelmusik, the Brandenburg Collegium, Philadelphia Classical Symphony, Mid-Atlantic Chamber Orchestra, Charleston Symphony, Huntington Chamber Orchestra, and the Huntington Symphony where he premiered Ulysses, the cello concerto written for him by Paul W. Whear. He appeared with Musica Antiqua Köln, the Vienna Boys Choir, Concert Royal, Mozartean Players, Smithsonian Chamber Players, Aradia, the Maggio Musicale in Florence, and toured Japan and Singapore as principal cellist with Opera Atelier.
In addition to his performance career, his composition Short Story was commissioned and premiered by Tafelmusik in 2006. For Pro Musica Rara, he wrote scripts for various narrated programs, including Telemann’s Don Quixote and Baltimore in Peace and War, and composed a musical setting for The Cask of Amontillado in honor of Edgar Allen Poe’s 200th birthday. He gave masterclasses and lectures at conservatories and universities throughout Canada and the United States. As a program note writer, his liner notes for Mozart and Beethoven symphonies were published on the Sony and Analekta labels. He recorded on numerous albums encompassing many genres, including with Hammer Clavier Trio, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Vanessa Paradis, Jeanne Lamon, Mary Jane Newman, and Lenny Kravitz, with recording credits include Sony, Virgin, Musical Heritage, Naxos, and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.
Allen is survived by his wife Cynthia Roberts, and his sister Cynthia Whear. He would like to be remembered for his passion for playing the cello, for the composer Boccherini, and for his work especially with Tafelmusik, The Carmel Bach Festival, and his teaching at UNT. He will be truly sorely missed for his contributions to Mountainside Baroque.