Charles Wetherbee Death – Charles “Chas” Wetherbee, a renowned violinist and professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, passed away from cancer on Monday, taking with him a significant player in the neighborhood’s music scene. In 2018, Wetherbee suffered a renal cell cancer diagnosis. Even after receiving radiation treatments and having two neck surgeries, he carried on performing and teaching in the years that followed his diagnosis. Wetherbee received comfort care at home as his cancer got worse over the past four months. He passed away at the age of 57 on Monday morning, leaving behind his wife Karina and three kids.
In 2012, Wetherbee started working at the CU Boulder College of Music as an associate professor of violin. David Korevaar, a renowned piano professor at CU Boulder, has known Wetherbee for slightly over ten years. Throughout the epidemic, the two often collaborated, performing in chamber music ensembles, travelling, and hosting internet recitals. “As a musician, (Wetherbee) was the best collaborator you could have asked for,” Korevaar said. “He was curious about repertoire, he always wanted to do new pieces and was interested in a broad range of styles. It was a very easy and natural collaboration.”
Wetherbee was deemed essential to the development of the string program at the College of Music by Korevaar. “He was a real leader in recruiting new students, and he was a beloved teacher for his students,” Korevaar said. “For our program, those are big shoes to fill.” Korine Fujiwara, a friend and fellow violinist of Wetherbee, started a GoFundMe campaign in December to raise money for the Wetherbee family. By Wednesday, the campaign had raised more than $204,000 and had received over 1,200 donations. “I wanted to do anything I could to help reduce stress,” Fujiwara said. If you knew Chas, you would be aware of his warmth and integrity. Although I’m not surprised by how many people adore Chas, it’s good to know that there are so many.
In addition to the GoFundMe campaign’s resounding success, Korevaar claimed to have seen numerous Facebook posts from Wetherbee’s former pupils paying tribute to their late professor and the influence he had on their lives. “What I find incredible is the outpouring from people all over the country and all over the world, and the generosity,” he said. “It indicates how he’s touched everybody.” Wetherbee’s musical prowess was not just demonstrated in Boulder. Wetherbee, a native of New York, started his career playing for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra before going on to perform for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., the Columbus Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, and other orchestras all over the world. Wetherbee’s departure as concertmaster is also felt by the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. Michael Butterman, the music director, emphasized the relationship he had with Wetherbee by describing the concertmaster position as a sort of lieutenant for the conductor.
“Any kind of leader has to be able to understand how to get the best out of people they’re working with,” Butterman said. Wetherbee simply had a way of motivating and calming people. Wetherbee spent nine seasons as concertmaster for the Boulder Phil before joining the organization in 2014. Most recently, over the Thanksgiving holiday, he participated in “The Nutcracker” production by the Boulder Ballet as a member of the orchestra. “I consider the orchestra really blessed to have worked with him,” Butterman said. I’m heartbroken that we won’t be working on music together in the future, but… His contributions to our orchestra and the community as a whole are ones that will live on.
Wetherbee was slated to perform a solo for the Boulder Phil’s “Afternoon with Bruckner” event at 4 p.m. on January 22 in Macky Auditorium at CU Boulder, according to Butterman. Alex Gonzalez, an assistant professor of violin at CU, will replace Wetherbee, to whom the concert is now devoted. No one will succeed Chas, remarked Butterman. He will be succeeded by someone, but not by someone else. At 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 in CU’s Grusin Music Hall, Korevaar will also perform a solo piano performance for Wetherbee. Korevaar chose the program’s musical selection in reaction to Wetherbee’s condition at the time and in the hopes that he would get better.
PC: Eric Reitan
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