April 10, 2017

From the Stage: Charles Wetherbee, guest violin

Musician and professor Charles Wetherbee will serve as guest artist on the RPO's Sunday Matinee program on April 30 at Hochstein Performance Hall. Wetherbee is first violinist of the esteemed Carpe Diem String Quartet, which plays to packed houses across the U.S. and is known for programming that includes elements of Gypsy, tango, folk, rock, pop and jazz-music alongside the classical repertoire. Wetherbee will perform a piece he commissioned himself by Carpe Diem violist/composer Korine Fujiwara called "The Storyteller."
Charles Wetherbee

"I have always loved performing that portion of the violin solo repertoire that was written by violinist/composers," said Wetherbee, who is also assistant professor of violin at the University of Colorado Boulder. "There is something exciting and fitting about a composer who plays the instrument that they are writing for, and this knowledge often translates into the way things get voiced, orchestrated, and expressed."

To compose "The Storyteller," Fujiwara drew inspiration from the beloved Japanese folk tales of her youth which were told by her father and grandfather.

"The traditions of storytelling exist in every culture, and for many families, it is a familiar bedtime ritual," said Fujiwara. "The concerto is inspired in part by the haunting sounds of Kangen, a type of instrumental Gagaku (Japanese court music), and populated by a motley cast of characters from Japanese folk tales."

So how does a violinist mimic the sounds of Japanese instruments?

“It's a challenge to get the right flavor, the right timbre, the right color of those instruments,” said Wetherbee. “At the same time all of these effects all of these characters in the stories ... it's all incorporated in a very melodic and romantic language.”

"The Storyteller" received its world premiere in 2012 by the National Gallery Orchestra.

"The work emerged as one with some very traditional elements, and some that are much more contemporary," added Wetherbee. "It is a pleasure to play, and it does also, I think, resurrect at times the use of the violin as an instrument that can mimic the qualities of the human voice."

If you go:
Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, also featuring "The Storyteller"
Sunday, April 30 at 2 PM
Hochstein Performance Hall
Tickets $27

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