November 24, 2015

Stand Partners Since ’89, CIM Faculty Dazzle Audiences with Double Viola Concerto

Stand Partners Since ’89, CIM Faculty Dazzle Audiences with Double Viola Concerto

Robert Vernon and Lynne Ramsey, both viola faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music, are principal and first assistant principal violists of The Cleveland Orchestra. They’ve been stand partners since 1989 and this past weekend, they treated Severance Hall audiences with a “deeply riveting” performance of the world premiere of Richard Sortomme’s Concerto for Two Violas.

For a double concerto both performers must be incredibly in sync with one another. Good news for audiences is Ramsey and Vernon have a lot of experience playing together—this season rounds out their 26th. “Our partnership helped enormously in the double concerto,” says Ramsey. “We have similar sound, intonation and musical concepts so that is invaluable in playing together. They are not completely the same however so it enhances the performance while still playing as an ensemble."

This balance translated to the stage last weekend.’s Zachary Lewis called it “deeply riveting” saying such a performance warrants an end to viola stereotypes. “It showcased the expressive potential of the viola and the flawless partnership between Vernon and Ramsey, the piece also kept listeners on their toes, shifting unexpectedly from the ponderous and melodious to the frenzied and rhythmic,” he said.

But even more than just stand partners or musical companions, Ramsey and Vernon have a mutual respect that is evident in their playing.  “Not only is he an amazing and intelligent violist but he is honest, kind and true,” says Ramsey. “Those virtues are what make him who he is, and arguably the best at what he does.”

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