June 30, 2016
Alum Appointed Cleveland Orchestra Principal Viola
Cleveland Institute of Music alum Wesley Collins (BM ’07, Vernon) has been appointed principal violist of The Cleveland Orchestra. Collins succeeds his former teacher Robert Vernon, co-head of CIM’s Viola Department, who held the coveted position for 40 years. Collins will assume the new role in September at the start of The Orchestra’s 2016-17 season.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to join The Cleveland Orchestra to make music with this amazing group of musicians,” said 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.”
Collins currently serves as a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), with fellow alum and former Vernon student Rebecca Gitter (BM ’01 Vernon). This year BSO appointed two other CIM alum violists, Leah Ferguson (BM ’15 Vernon/Jackobs) and Rebekah Edewards (BM ’08 Jackobs).
Zach Lewis of Cleveland.com highlighted the great success Vernon has had in getting his students into top-tier professional orchestras in his article on the news. He writes, “like many current members of the Cleveland Orchestra and other major groups, including the Boston Symphony, Collins studied with Vernon at the Cleveland Institute of Music.”