10. Peabody Institute – Baltimore, MD
Notable Faculty: Choong-Jin Chang, Richard Field, Victoria Chiang
The viola performance instructors at the Peabody Institute represent a diverse array of aesthetics, backgrounds, and interests, which can only be of benefit to prospective students. Violist Choong-Jin Chang is the principal violist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a title he has held for nearly eight years. He is also one of the founders of the widely heard Johanes Quartet. Another prominent orchestral musician on the faculty, Richard Field is the principal violist of the Peabody Institute.
Outside of two orchestral luminaries, the college also boasts the talents of artist-faculty Victoria Chiang, who is an acclaimed recording artist, is a member of the Aspen String Trio. For an insight into her teaching, below is a video of her explaining the technique of “shifting” to a student violist.
9. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music – Bloomington, IN
Notable Faculty: Atar Arad, Stephen Wyrczynski
The active viola teachers Atar Arad and Stephen Wryczynski headline studios consisting of some of the most talented young string musicians studying at the university level today. Wryczynski, a former member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and previous student of violist Kim Kashkashian, regularly teaches and performs at the world’s most renowned music festivals and institutions. Professor Atar Arad, former violist of the Cleveland Quartet, serves as faculty member to some of the most gifted young musicians at a number of summer music festivals. I have heard that Arad typically only takes on graduate students, although if you know anything differently do email me. Still, the accomplished, well-rounded nature of the faculty combined with the extraordinary facilities and plentitude of high-level orchestras at the college make this one of the most desirable locations for top violists in the country.
8. Lynn University Conservatory of Music – Boca Raton, FL
Notable Faculty: Ralph Fielding
Many may see this as an especially high placement for a music department not typically associated with the likes of other top schools like New England and Indiana. However, the viola professor at Lynn University, Ralph Fielding, has established himself as among the most important viola teachers in the country, heading Florida’s most desirable viola studio. A past member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Fielding has also been an active string member of the Hollywood film-music community and has even been elected President to the distinguished America Viola Society. For a choice that is both extremely high in quality and perhaps less selective than other conservatories like Oberlin, Peabody, and Juilliard, consider application to Ralph Fielding’s studio in Boca Raton for excellent instruction in classical viola performance.
7. Cleveland Institute of Music – Cleveland, OH
Notable Faculty: Jeffrey Irvine, Robert Vernon
Indubitably one of the top schools for viola performance, the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music, headed by Cleveland Orchestra principal Robert Vernon and esteemed teacher Jeffrey Irvine, are among the most accomplished viola professors who have had students go on to outstanding careers. Successful alumni include the founding violist of the Miami Quartet, members of the Colorado, National, and Spokane Symphonies, and professors at the University of Virginia and Illinois State University, among other institutions. Consider yourself primed for success as a violist if successfully given a coveted position as a student at CIM.