Violas (pronounced “vee-oh-lahs”) are bigger than violins and have a lower, deeper sound. Violas are the only instrument to read music in a clef called “alto clef.” This clef sits in the middle between the high treble notes of the violin and the low bass notes of the cellos and basses, which is perfect for the mid-range sounds of the viola. You play the viola by tucking it between your chin and shoulder, just like the violin. Your left hand presses down on the strings to change the pitch, and your right hand moves the bow or plucks the strings. The viola has four strings tuned a fifth apart, and from highest to lowest, they are: A, D, G, and C.
Principal Viola, Reine H. Myers Chair
Associate Principal Viola, Douglas and Louise Leatherdale Chair
Assistant Principal Viola
Violist Sam Bergman joined the Minnesota Orchestra in 2000 at the age of 23. Born in Boston, he grew up primarily in small-town Pennsylvania, studying violin and viola with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra. He attended Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, studying viola with Jeffrey Irvine and Lynne Ramsey, and played as a member of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham before coming to Minneapolis.