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Robert Vernon

Robert Vernon Photograph by Roger Mastroianni

Principal Viola
Chaillé H. and Richard B. Tullis Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra

Robert Vernon has served as principal viola of The Cleveland Orchestra since 1976. He has appeared as soloist with the Orchestra in more than 100 concerts, both in Cleveland and on tour in the United States, Canada, and Europe, including solo appearances at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, Kennedy Center, London’s Royal Festival Hall, and Smetana Hall in Prague. These performances have included more than a dozen works, including three world premieres of works commissioned for him by The Cleveland Orchestra (by Paul Schoenfield in 1998, by Richard Sortomme in 2007, and by Paul Chihara in 2009).

Recognized as one of this country’s foremost teachers of viola, Mr. Vernon chairs the viola department at the Cleveland Institute of Music and was appointed to the music faculty of the Juilliard School in September 2008. He serves on the summer faculties of Kent/Blossom Music, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Heifetz Institute. His students hold major positions as chamber musicians and teachers, and have won positions with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Canada — to date, over 50 orchestras. Mr. Vernon has presented lectures and masterclasses in Europe, Canada, South America, and Asia, and has given classes at Juilliard, Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto), and other leading schools and conservatories.

An active chamber musician, Robert Vernon has performed with artists including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Claude Frank, Lynn Harrell, Robert Levin, Lorin Maazel, Elmar Oliveira, and György Pauk. As a regular participant in leading North American summer music festivals, he has appeared as a recitalist and chamber music performer at Aspen, Blossom, La Jolla, Marlboro, Ravinia, Round Top, Sarasota, Tanglewood, and Yellow Barn, among others. 

Mr. Vernon has collaborated with most of the great conductors of our time, including Pierre Boulez, Colin Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Seiji Ozawa, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Georg Solti, and Franz Welser-Möst. He has recorded virtually the entire standard orchestral repertoire with The Cleveland Orchestra. As soloist, he has recorded Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante K364, and Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote for Decca. In 2000, he recorded Schoenfield’s Viola Concerto with the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He can also be heard on a number of chamber music recordings on the Decca/London, Telarc, and Innova labels. He is featured on a compact disc study tool for violists in the OrchestraPro Series, and has written a book on orchestral excerpts titled Essential Orchestral Excerpts for Viola: The Keys to a Successful Audition.