Verona Quartet to Hold 2020-21 Oberlin Residency

July 17, 2020

Erich Burnett

four musicians holding their string instruments
Photo credit: Courtesy Verona Quartet

Winner of Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award, rising ensemble will mentor college musicians through lessons, chamber music, and more.

The Verona Quartet, winners of Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award for 2020, will serve as quartet in residence at Oberlin Conservatory for the 2020-21 academic year.

The ensemble’s focus includes secondary lessons and chamber music coaching with students from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as collaborations with the Oberlin Arts and Sciences Orchestra, which consists of standout musicians from the college as well as members of the community. The quartet will also perform a series of concerts throughout the upcoming season.

Established by Chamber Music America in 1995, the Cleveland Quartet Award promotes the career development of young string quartets of exceptional promise. Previous winners include such renowned ensembles as the Pacifica, Jupiter, and Mirò quartets, all of which feature Oberlin alumni.

The Verona Quartet has earned acclaim for its championing of contemporary repertoire and composers, as well as its numerous interdisciplinary collaborations—among them performances with Dance Heginbotham of New York City, an artistic exchange with poets from the United Arab Emirates, and performances with the folk trio I’m With Her, made possible through the Kennedy Center’s Direct Current Festival. Hailed as “outstanding” by The New York Times, the quartet won the 2015 Concert Artist Guild competition and has performed in such famed venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Wigmore Hall. Its debut recording, Diffusion, featuring works by Ravel, Szymanowski, and Janáček, is forthcoming on Azica Records.

The quartet consists of violinists Jonathan Ong and Dorothy Ro, violist Abigail Rojansky, and cellist Jonathan Dormand.

The residency represents a homecoming for Rojansky, a 2011 Oberlin Conservatory graduate. Like her Verona colleagues, she gravitated toward chamber music early in her career—and ultimately to the sort of boundary-bending collaborations that have become a hallmark of the Verona Quartet’s young career.

“I have always been so thankful for the ways Oberlin opens students up to opportunities and encourages you to pursue your passions,” Rojansky says. “I left Oberlin with the sense that I could do whatever I wanted to. There were no limitations, and this quartet grew out of that same sensibility.”

The Verona Quartet currently maintains residencies at Indiana University Summer String Academy, North Carolina’s Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. Previous fellowships include the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Their mentors include members of the Cleveland Quartet, Juilliard Quartet and Pacifica Quartet.

“With the Verona Quartet at Oberlin, we will be providing our college students with the highest level of musical instruction,” says Sibbi Bernhardsson, professor of violin at Oberlin and a former coach of the quartet at Indiana, when he was also a member of the Pacifica Quartet.

Bernhardsson notes that the quartet will live in Oberlin for the 2020-21 season, the better to facilitate opportunities for robust collaboration with students.

“Part of what I think is so exciting is that they are not commuting in and out of town and trying to fit Oberlin into their tour schedule,” he says. “They will be here as part of our community, and they will be able to do very meaningful work with our students. They will serve as very important role models—not just for our college students, but for our conservatory students as well.”

The Verona Quartet’s Oberlin residency is made possible through the generosity of Richard L. Clark ’62, a physician and avid cellist who performed in the Oberlin Orchestra while pursuing zoology studies at Oberlin College, and by an anonymous gift from the family of a current Oberlin student to support enhanced musical offerings for students in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The residency’s emphasis on collaborations with college musicians and ensembles aligns with Oberlin’s broader mission of providing vibrant, immersive opportunities in music for all students. Learn more about music opportunities at Oberlin College.

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