Musical Artist Advocate

About Wally

IMG_3988Wally is an award-winning and critically acclaimed musician who has embraced a unique and deep-rooted passion for the performance, teaching and advocacy of music. Wally was born in Greensboro, North Carolina in December 1961. He graduated from Walter Hines Page High School in 1980, and then immediately went on to earn a Bachelor of Music Degree in Saxophone Performance from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in 1983.

After college, Wally has continued his education out in the real world, as he has performed all across the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, touring, recording, and performing with such diverse, popular acts as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Bob Hope, Joe Williams, Lou Rawls, Michael Feinstein, Marvin Hamlisch, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Spinners, The O'Jays, Natalie Cole, as well as Arturo Sandoval, Branford Marsalis, Tony Bennett, Mercer Ellington, Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Carl Fontana, Bobby Shew, Ellis Marsalis, John Pizzarelli and numerous other jazz and popular artists. Furthermore, he has also performed across the United States as a member of the USO Jazz Orchestra and the USAirways Jazz Orchestra, performing for presidents Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and countless other entertainment, political and military dignitaries. Wally has performed regularly with the Greensboro, Winston-Salem and North Carolina Symphonies for their POPS Concert Series.

Wally has served as musical contractor and recording artist for Kindermusik International for their musical curriculum CDs, which are used worldwide. Wally is also visible on the Motown, Summit, EMI, Rockhouse and New Moon record labels as a recording artist. He has served on the jazz studies faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill from 2001 to 2004, Guilford College in 2017, Gardner-Webb University from 2014 to 2020, and UNC-Charlotte from 2017 to 2022. Wally spent 14 years, from 2000 to 2013, as a member and the executive director of the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. He was a co-founding member and Administrative Director of The Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra, North Carolina's most exciting and unique big band.

Wally served as music director and project coordinator for the John Coltrane Jazz Workshop in High Point, NC, sponsored by the High Point Arts Council, from its inception in 2002. He oversaw the growth and popularity of this important workshop for 20 years, through 2021. In 2006, Wally won the Mayor's Award for Teaching Excellence highlighting his gift of working with these young jazz musicians at the Workshop. Wally’s experience in both performance and instruction has him called upon as an adjudicator and clinician for high school and college jazz festivals. Wally also served on the Board of Advisors at the Guilford Technical Community College School of Entertainment Technology.

Since 1995, Wally has owned and operated Wally West Music. From 1995 to 2021, the agency’s concentration was on musical entertainment consulting, coordination and contracting that placed musicians, bands and DJs in social, corporate and private settings of events, functions and gatherings. In this capacity, Wally West Music happily served thousands of satisfied clients who used the business for assistance with their social and corporate musical entertainment needs.

Before Wally retired from his business, the focus of Wally West Music was on teaching, as well as adjudicating and directing clinics for high school, community and college jazz ensembles. Wally’s vast experience in jazz pedagogy with young and upcoming jazz musicians has been a blessing, and his experience, love and knowledge of the art form has culminated into a “dream realized” with that focus of teaching, adjudicating and directing.

Wally has also retired from performing. But the saxophone continues its West family legacy through the talents of Wally's son, Aaron.

Today, Wally is the Director of Artistic Planning for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. He works directly with the administrative staff, production staff, musicians, conductors, guest conductors, guest artists and special guests, providing his expertise in logistics and knowledge of contracting and coordination.

In 2001, Wally was featured on the cover and in an article and interview in Saxophone Journal, the leading magazine spotlighting the best saxophone players in the world.

Wally's wife Cathy recently retired as the Senior Director of Worship and Arts at Christ United Methodist Church in Greensboro, where they continue to be members. She is a member of the Bel Canto Company, a professional choral ensemble, as well as a freelance pianist and vocalist in the Triad area of North Carolina. Cathy is a Winery Operations Associate at Stonefield Cellars Winery in Stokesdale, NC.

Wally and Cathy's 26-year-old son, Aaron, is a 2020 graduate of Appalachian State University with a BA in Music Industry Studies with a concentration in Recording and Production, and a 2022 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa with an MM in Jazz Studies. He is currently performing, teaching, and is involved with various recording and sound projects in Tampa, FL.

Last, but certainly not least, is the family dog - Sonny, a wire-haired dachshund. It's Sonny's world, we just live in it.

Wally and Cathy volunteer their time delivering Meals on Wheels / Mobile Meals to homebound senior citizens, and Out of the Garden, an initiative that ensures meals to underprivileged school-aged children and their families over weekends and school holidays.

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