Monday, November 7, 2011

Roths put their money where their music was

When most people retire, their co-workers or employers give them a going-away present, right? The Charlotte Symphony's Wolfgang and Bette Roth have turned the practice around.

The Roths, who retired last summer after more than 30 years with the orchestra, have made "a substantial gift" to its endowment fund, the orchestra announced today. As a thank-you, the orchestra has established the Wolfgang Roth Principal Second Violin Chair.

The Roths made the donation "out of gratitude," Wolfgang Roth said in a statement.

"Reflecting on the past 40 years, I realize how blessed I have been by the CSO, the city of Charlotte and even this country," German-born Roth said.

With the Roths' donation as a jump-start, the orchestra's goal is to raise money to endow the chair. That will call for a total of about $1 million, executive director Jonathan Martin said. Investing that would generate enough money to cover the player's salary.

The Roths' donation "exemplifies the dedication, character and the deep love of this institution that they brought to work every day," Martin said in a statement.

Wolfgang Roth, who joined the orchestra in 1971, signed its first full-time contract when it began to go professional. He became its principal second violinist in 1976. Bette began as a part-time member of the orchestra, then became its first full-time harpist in 1983.

Though the orchestra's announcement didn't point it out, honoring Bette with the harp chair wasn't an option. It's already named for Billy Graham.

Photo: Todd Sumlin