The concertmaster of Colorado’s Boulder Philharmonic and member of the acclaimed Carpe Diem Quartet passed away after a long battle with cancer
Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1966, Charles “Chas” Tyler Wetherbee made his public debut at age six with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Symon Bychkov. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music studying with Aaron Rosand, he went on to perform internationally. His first orchestral appointment was as the principal second violin with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. where he stayed for five years.
He later served as concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony for 16 years and was concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). In 2012, he was appointed associate professor of violin at the University of Colorado.
Wetherbee was scheduled to perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with the BPO on January 22, 2023 — a concert that will now be dedicated to his memory.
He performed with many ensembles including the National Symphony with Mstislav Rostropovitch, Kyoto Symphony, Japan Philharmonic, Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogotá, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de México, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, and the National Repertory Orchestra.
As a recording artist, he appeared on various labels including Naxos, Seize the Music Records, Weasel Records, and Vienna Modern Classics. Notably, he was featured on a recording with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra playing Massenet’s “Meditation” from Thaïs.
He also served as the artistic director of the Snake River Music Festival and was the first violinist of the Carpe Diem String Quartet, with whom he toured regularly. Wetherbee played on the rare Widenhouse 44 violin and performed on bows crafted by Charles Espy and Bennoit Rolland.
“[He was] my best and most trusted friend, co-conspirator, longtime collaborator … and a beautiful example of all that is good in the world,” said Korine Fujiwara, violist of Carpe Diem. “[He] has captivated us all with his versatile and compelling artistry on the concert stage and charmed us with his passionate and sparkling personality over the decades. In these last few weeks he was continuously surrounded by love radiating from all around the world. Oh, how we will miss him.”
“As with many others today, our hearts are heavy,” said John Davis, dean of the CU College of Music. “Our community will miss him deeply. Chas brought a wealth of expertise and experience from his varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, orchestral concertmaster, teacher, coach and collaborator.”
In December 2022, Fujiwara launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Wetherbee’s wife Kari and three children, which has since raised over $200,000 from 1,200 donors.
Our condolences to Mr. Wetherbee’s family, friends, students, and colleagues.
JULE MASSENET | MÉDITATION FROM THAÏS | CHAS WETHERBEE | DAVID KOREVAAR | 2013