Christopher Peter Rupe died on September 14 on Martha’s Vineyard after a long illness. He was born January 4, 1972, in Ann Arbor, Mich., to Pamela Phillips and Jeffrey Rupe (deceased). In 1981 he moved with his family to Massachusetts and graduated from Concord Carlisle High School in 1990. He completed his Bachelor of Music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1998.
Christopher’s love of music started at an early age. He received a guitar for Christmas when he was 10 years old, and when he asked for a clue about what his big present was that year, his mother told him it didn’t use electricity (and therefore was not an Atari), and if he learned to use it properly, it would give him joy for the rest of his life. And it did. Christopher would walk in all kinds of Massachusetts weather to his weekly lesson at Clyde’s Music in Concord, where he was introduced to bluegrass music. He painted the garage when he was a teenager to earn the money for his first electric guitar. When he was in high school he studied with the renowned musician Eric Schoenberg, who had a huge influence on Christopher’s style and artistry. While his parents had to remind him to do his homework or feed the dog, they never had to nag him about practicing the guitar. He loved to play and played beautifully. He also became an excellent teacher and enjoyed inspiring young musicians to learn the art.
He not only played music, he was also a talented composer and songwriter. His major at Berklee College of Music was in film scoring, and his assignments including writing original scores for multiple instruments that were played by live artists in a recording studio. His younger brother, Colin Newcomer, followed in his footsteps but adopted the piano as his instrument. They formed a collaboration and produced two CDs together and had plans for a third, plans that were cut short by Christopher’s untimely death.
Christopher loved Martha’s Vineyard, and the Vineyard community helped and supported him in so many ways in his battle with his illness. He started spending his summers working on the Vineyard when he was in college and moved here permanently in 2001. He captured many beautiful pictures of the Island; photography was another one of his accomplishments. Christopher was a skilled chess player and hard to beat at Scrabble. His family and many friends mourn the loss of this talented, humorous, kind, gentle, and generous soul, but his memory and music will live on in their hearts.
Christopher is survived by his mother, Pamela Phillips and father, Chris Newcomer, of Brookeville, Maryland; his sister, Alicia Newcomer of Washington, D. C.; his brother, Colin Newcomer of Bangkok, Thailand; and grandmother, Alice Phillips, of Livonia, Michigan.
A tribute to his life and music is being planned on Martha’s Vineyard for Saturday, November 5, at 2 pm at The Old Whaling Church in Edgartown.
Contributions in Christopher’s honor can be made to Gosnold on Cape Cod, 200 Ter Heun Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540 or the Berklee Fund, Office of Institutional Advancement, Berklee College of Music, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215.