Encouraged by Seiji Ozawa to “take up the baton,” eminent violinist Joel Smirnoff has developed into a highly acclaimed conductor with an impressive and wide-ranging repertoire. He is consistently cited for his high energy and special attention to the stylistic demands of each work.
In 2000, Mr. Smirnoff made his official American conducting debut with the San Francisco Symphony, conducting an all-Tchaikovsky program. Guest conducting engagements include the Amarillo Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Juilliard Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Texas Music Festival Orchestra, Western New York Chamber Orchestra, and a European tour with the Basel Sinfonietta and Charles Rosen as soloist in the Elliott Carter Piano Concerto.
Joel Smirnoff has recently been named President of the Cleveland Institute of Music, a post he assumed in the late summer of 2008. He will retain his long-standing positions of first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet and Chairman of the Violin Department at The Juilliard School until the end of the 2008-09 season. Also as violinist, Mr. Smirnoff was the featured soloist in 1997 at the Tanglewood Music Festival in a concert dedicated to the memory of violinist Louis Krasner, performing the Berg Violin Concerto under the direction of Bernard Haitink. In 1983, as second-prize winner of the International American Music Competition for Violin, he was awarded debuts at Carnegie Hall on its Emerging Artists series and at Town Hall on its Midtown Masters series.
Joel Smirnoff also plays jazz, performing frequently as improvising soloist with Tony Bennett. His solos were featured on the Grammy award-winning CD Tony Bennett Sings Ellington Hot and Cool. He has also been guest soloist with Gunther Schuller and the American Jazz Orchestra, and the Billy Taylor Trio.