Eliesha Nelson joined the viola section of The Cleveland Orchestra at the beginning of the 2000-2001 season. She is the first former member of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra to be appointed a member of The Cleveland Orchestra, having played violin in the Youth Orchestra for three seasons, from 1989 to 1992, and serving as concertmaster of the ensemble for the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons. Raised in North Pole, Alaska, Eliesha Nelson joined the Young Artists Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) and began attending Hathaway Brown School at age 15. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CIM and an artist diploma from the Royal Academy of Music in London. After switching to viola, Ms. Nelson studied with Robert Vernon (principal viola of The Cleveland Orchestra) while pursuing her master’s degree at CIM. Her violin teachers included David Russell, György Pauk, and Linda Cerone.
Prior to her appointment with The Cleveland Orchestra, Ms. Nelson served as acting principal viola of both the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and the Florida Grand Opera Orchestra. She has appeared as a soloist with the Florida Philharmonic and the San Antonio Symphony and in Northern Ohio with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, Lakeside Symphony Orchestra, and Ohio Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Nelson’s honors include the Dr. Jerome Gross Prize in Violin (CIM) and the Marjorie Haywood Violin Recital Prize from the Royal Academy of Music. In September 2009, Ms. Nelson released a recording of the complete viola music of Quincy Porter.
Favorite Local Restaurant
There are so many wonderful restaurants in Cleveland, it’s hard to choose just one. Among my favs are REBoL, the Flying Fig, Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar.
Do you have any pets?
No pets but lots of plants, including my indoor year-round hydroponic gardens — which may as well be pets.
Favorite Contemporary Performer
I enjoy classic jazz (especially Oscar Peterson), Dolly Parton, and Leikeli47. There’s a wide range.
What it feels like to play at Severance Hall
Fulfilling. When I play well, I’m open to my colleagues and I feel connected to the audience. I feel very satisfied.
Best advice I ever received
My mom (Ruth Nelson) said, “Be open to today’s opportunities.”