Newly Named Honors Brass Quintet Recognizes Major Alumnus Gift

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras is pleased to announce that Charles and Eva Tibbetts of Eau Claire, WI have recently made a major commitment to the WYSO endowment. In recognition of this gift, the newly created
WYSO Honors Brass Quintet will be named the Tibbetts Brass Quintet.

Charles grew up in Beloit, WI where as a sophomore in high school he played horn with the Beloit Civic Orchestra. It was there that he met another local student horn player, John Zirbel from Janesville. As a 9th grader, John had successfully auditioned to play in the very first Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra founded by Marvin Rabin in 1966. With John’s encouragement, Charles was accepted into WYSO in 1967. Charles and John both began studying horn with the legendary UW-Madison horn professor John Barrows and attended UW-Madison together.

During Charles’ senior year at Wisconsin in 1973, a former WYSO friend returned home to Madison in the fall and told him about a new international youth orchestra institute in Montreux, Switzerland she was attending, Institut de Hautes Etudes Musicales. The institute was organized by WYSO Founder Marvin Rabin and administered by WYSO Manager Dick Wolf. Charles was told by his friend that there was a vacant principal horn position open, so Charles met with Rabin who told him that if he could get permission from his parents, he would help him get accepted. Permission was granted and in January 1974, the same month John Barrows died of cancer, Charles left the university and flew to Montreux.

Some of Europe’s greatest horn players taught at the institute. The German horn virtuoso Herman Baumann encouraged Charles to take orchestra auditions in Germany while he was at the institute. At his second audition, Charles won the position of principal horn with the Philharmonia Hungarica, under the direction of Antal Dorati. Charles did not return to the university, and for the next 36 years he held principal horn positions with orchestras in Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Baden-Baden and Freiburg, Germany. While with the SWR Radio Orchestra, Charles met Eva, a young Hungarian violist that joined the orchestra while a student in Stuttgart. Charles and Eva were married soon after and raised a son and daughter together.

In June 2010, Charles returned to his native Wisconsin with Eva and their now grown children. After reconnecting with the WYSO family at the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Eva and Charles were invited by James Smith to help with Youth Orchestra viola and horn sectionals. Chamber music was always a great love of Charles. In 1986 he founded the brass quintet Das Rennquintett in Germany. After being asked to coach a rehearsal of the Honors Brass Quintet in the fall of 2017, Charles and Eva were motivated to establish a lasting legacy of the impact that WYSO had on their lives by making a gift.

“I owe my entire professional music career to Marvin Rabin,” Charles said.

Participants in the Tibbetts Brass Quintet are selected by competitive audition and are also members of the
WYSO Youth Orchestra.

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