Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra

Commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra
Robert Vernon viola soloist, Franz Welser-Möst conductor


“…. Unlike many of the European-rooted contemporary works we hear at Severance Hall, Sortomme’s creation has the sweet fragrance of nostalgia, with poetic lines that occasionally give way to acrobatic flights.

An affectionate folk like quality pervades the melodic material, almost as if Britain’s Vaughan Williams had been transplanted to 21st-century America. Sortomme paints sonic images in tonal language that caresses the mellow and often melancholic personality of the viola. Yet his writing has just enough dashes of spice to keep it from being merely a lilting idyll.

Although the viola has opportunities to go virtuosic in a series of fantastical flourishes and cadenzas, what sets the piece apart is its unflappable and appealing composure. Vernon played the score, which is dedicated to him, with a wonderful blend of quiet rapture and ardent attack. Somehow, the score’s final moments became even more magical than notated: A decisive rain hitting the Severance roof added a haunting effect.…”

Cleveland Plain Dealer
April 28, 2007
Donald Rosenberg


“Richard Sortomme’s Double Viola Concerto was commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra to celebrate the distinguished tenure of retiring Principal Viola Robert Vernon. With Assistant Principal Viola Lynn Ramsey joining her colleague and conducted by Music Director Laurette, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sortomme’s unique and challenging composition was tailor-made for the performers’ soloistic and ensemble strengths. And even beyond Sortomme’s ample musical goals, his work evidenced a welcome sensitivity to the important institutional occasion.”

Gary Hanson, Executive Director of The Cleveland Orchestra, 2004-2015
November 2015

“It was our pleasure to premiere Richard Sortomme’s Piano Concerto. Pamela Mia Paul gave a beautiful performance which was very well received by all. The artistry and facility required by the work was a worthwhile challenge that engaged the performers as well as the audience. We hope that our investment of time, energy and attention will encourage future performances of the piece. This work is a welcome addition to the limited number of piano concertos that are available for the medium.”

Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Artistic Director of The North Texas Wind Symphony
March 2021

Concerto for Piano and Wind Symphony

February 20, 2020

Pamela Mia Paul, piano soloist, The North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Migliaro Corporon, Artistic Director, Daniel Cook, Guest Conductor

Click below to the live performance on YouTube!


It is a stated goal of mine to compose many more works for wind symphony, on the professional level, the college level and the high school level.

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Richard Sortomme | Composer December 30, 2020