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Cleveland Orchestra Announces Wesley Collins as Principal Viola Beginning with 2016-17 Severance Hall Season

Release Date:  June 27, 2016

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst announce that Wesley Collins will join the Orchestra as principal viola beginning with the start of the 2016-17 Severance Hall season, with the first weekend of performances September 29 to October 1, 2016.  He will sit in the Orchestra’s Chaillé H. and Richard B. Tullis Principal Viola Endowed Chair. 

Mr. Collins will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Principal Viola Robert Vernon, who was Mr. Collins’s teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Mr. Vernon retires from the Orchestra at the end of the 2016 summer season after 40 years, the longest tenure of any string principal in the Orchestra’s history.  He will receive the honorary title Principal Emeritus upon his retirement.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to join The Cleveland Orchestra to make music with this amazing group of musicians,” said Wesley Collins.  “I’m truly humbled to join this dream viola section.  Ever since hearing this Orchestra as a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I realized there was something special about this legendary ensemble.  I have the greatest respect for Robert Vernon as a musician, teacher and individual and I’m extremely grateful for his guidance throughout my career.”

About Wesley Collins
Wesley Collins joined the viola section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in the fall of 2012 and became third-chair viola in November 2014.  Before joining the BSO he had been a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, 2008-12.
Mr. Collins completed his bachelor of music degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music in May 2007, where he was a student of Robert Vernon.  While in Cleveland, he played as a substitute with The Cleveland Orchestra, played in the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and City Music Cleveland, and was assistant principal violist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.  His summer activities have included the Tanglewood Music Center, Sarasota Music Festival, Encore School for Strings, and the Pacific Music Festival.
Born December 17, 1984 and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Collins began studying violin with his mother, Sandy, at the age of four.  He also played trumpet under the instruction of his father, Philip Collins, former principal trumpet of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.  He later switched to viola under the guidance and inspiration of Michael Klotz, violist of the Amernet String Quartet.  Mr. Collins is an adjunct professor of viola at Boston University.