The 2023 Gary S. Wilmer scholarship winner, Wolfgang Vergara, is graduating from Hononegah High School this spring. He’s been an Illinois All State Musician for the last two years, as well as a Chandler Starr competition winner and a National Merit Scholar finalist. Wolfgang began to play piano with his father’s direction in grade school, gained an impromptu following fooling around on his middle school teacher’s classroom keyboard. In high school joining the Jazz band introduced him not only to the idea of improvisation but to the joy of ensemble performance. He credits two very influential teachers he studied under during this time: Ian Nie of Beloit College with whom he studied classical piano, and Peter Sheiner from Chicago who taught jazz piano online. He plans to continue his musical studies at Bradley University and hopefully have a successful career in music performance.
According to Wolfgang “All I know is that I want to keep the music playing in my life. That way, I could, in my mind, repay, my parents and teachers for encouraging and inspiring me to embrace music.”
The Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. has awarded over $70,000 to over 50 students to support their desire to study music.
The Gary S. Wilmer Memorial Trust was established in 1996 to honor the memory and continue the legacy of Gary Wilmer by awarding scholarships to students who wish to pursue and education in music. Gary was the founder & publisher of RAM Magazine, a Rockford area music monthly, and a founding organizer of the RAMI awards. Joe Guzzardo, owner of Guzzardo Music, said of Gary, "He was thoughtful and sensitive, and thoroughly understood the problems and needs of local music and musicians." Gary could do it all, be it organizing benefits, booking bands, running sound or lights, helping new music club owners or encouraging new talent to persevere. As the president of his senior class at East High School, as a graduate of Rockford College and as a successful businessman, Gary's 43 years of living showed that education is a marvelous "conductor" of a successful musical life.
It is the sincere hope of the RAMI scholarship committee that the recipients of this scholarship will carry on Gary's legacy with pride.
- Be a college-bound student in Boone, Ogle or Winnebago County;
- Be 19 years old or younger as of the application deadline;
- Be attending or planning to attend an accredited two- or four-year college/university;
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5/4.0;
- Demonstrate an ongoing commitment to further their musical education throughout college; and
- Be actively involved in school or community musical groups.
- Past recipients are not eligible to reapply.
Deadline February 1. For more information and online application forms, visit www.cfnil.org.
RAMI funds several programs through The Music Academy in Rockford. Each student is nominated by the staff of the Music Academy and must demonstrate financial need. Scholarship covers one year of study.
PO Box 4128, Rockford, IL 61110
ramicommittee @ ramiawards.com
Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. is classified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by the standards of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Therefore, any donations to the Rockford Area Music Industry, Inc. may be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.