It is with a heavy heart and tremendous sadness that I write to inform you that Professor Rami Solomonow, a beloved Chicago musician and DePaul faculty member for more than three decades, died Tuesday in Evanston. He was 68. Services are scheduled for Thursday, March 1, at 1 p.m. at the Skokie Chapel in Skokie, Ill.
Born in Tel Aviv, less than a year after Israel's founding, Rami played in the young state's youth orchestra, including a tour with famed actor/comedian of the 40's and 50's, Danny Kaye. He served for two years in the Israeli Defense Forces as a medic before studying at the Samuel Rubin Israel Academy of Music - an institution whose founders were all central-European immigrants who had fled to Israel just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Among this core group of founders was Oedoen Partos, Rami's principal teacher. He was also a member of the Israel Chamber Orchestra until 1972 and received prizes in viola and chamber music from the American-Israel Foundation.
In 1973 Rami moved to the US to study with Shmuel Ashkenasi at Northern Illinois University. No more than a year after his arrival in the States, he was appointed principal violist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago - a position he held for more than two decades, only leaving in 1995 to become a founding member of the Chicago String Quartet.
It was in 1981 that Rami joined the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music. While he continued to maintain an impressive performance schedule, he also began to transition his focus to teaching and mentoring young musicians - a role that he took on with incredible seriousness and care. Chair of our Music Performance department, Julie DeRoche eloquently captured his character:
"Rami had a great heart. He was sincere, tough when necessary, and solid - always there doing his work, quietly and with great integrity. He was the ultimate musician, a player of many moods, but a person who acted in the subtle way that often makes for the best artists. He will always be a part of the DePaul School of Music."
As a soloist and member of Chicago Chamber Musicians, Rami performed in the United States, Israel, Japan and South America. It was as a member of the CCM that he was nominated for a Grammy Award for the ensemble's recording of Mozart chamber works for strings and winds. He performed works with Menahem Pressler, Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, Leonard Rose, Gil Shaham, Shlomo Mintz, Edgar Mayer, Christoph Eschenbach, Midori, Robert McDonald and members of the Guarneri, Borodin and Juilliard Quartets.
For all his artistic accomplishments and incredible virtuosity, Rami will be remembered as an esteemed colleague, a treasured musician, a compassionate mentor and an exemplary friend. His contributions to the DePaul School of Music will be hugely missed.