Charles Vernon began his orchestral career as bass trombonist with the Baltimore Symphony, starting in September 1971. In 1980 he went to the San Francisco Symphony for one season. He was then chosen by Riccardo Muti to play bass trombone with the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he played for five years until coming to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1986.
A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Vernon attended Brevard College and Georgia State University, where he studied with Bill Hill as well as Gail Wilson, professor of trombone at Arizona State University. His mentor/teachers were Arnold Jacobs and Edward Kleinhammer, both former tuba and bass trombone of the Chicago Symphony.
Vernon has been on the faculties of Catholic University, Brevard Music Center, Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University, and the Curtis Institute and Northwestern University. Currently he is professor of trombone at DePaul University. Vernon has many solo and teaching appearances throughout the world.
In April 1991, with the CSO under Daniel Barenboim, he gave the world premiere of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Concerto for Bass Trombone, which was commissioned by the Orchestra for its centennial. In September 2006, he and the CSO premiered Chick’a’Bone Checkout, a new concerto for the alto, tenor and bass trombones and orchestra, written by trombonist and composer Christian Lindberg.
Vernon and his wife, Alison, have several commissioned song cycles for soprano, trombone and piano written by the American composer Eric Ewazen and performed for many European and U.S. audiences.
He has two sons—Mark, who graduated from Flash Point Academy in Chicago and worked for Xaviant Game Design and now is working for SuperBot Entertainment in Los Angeles working on PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale and Gary, who attends Oakton Community College.
Information concerning music written or arranged for him as well as books, CDs and a DVD of the documentary film on the Lindberg/Vernon project and many other things, can be found at CharlieVernon.com.
As a part-time athlete, Vernon is an avid swimmer and a member of the Evanston Masters Swim Team. He comments, “As time passes, I realize that I must keep doing it, so that I can KEEP doing it!”