CLEVELAND, OHIO - 06-07-2011 - The Cleveland Institute of Music is pleased to announce that President Joel Smirnoff has been awarded the 2011 University of Chicago Professional Achievement Award by the Alumni Board of Governors. President Smirnoff accepted the award June 4th in Chicago during the University's 70th annual Alumni Awards Ceremony.
"I am deeply honored to be remembered and celebrated by the University of Chicago, the great educational institution which allowed me and so many others to face life's challenges, fascinations and riches with the confidence that they could be described, understood and cherished," President Smirnoff said. "The University of Chicago of the late '60s was a gathering place of diversity, of intelligence and intensity while our society smoldered. It was a time during which a command of the tools that define existence and contradiction quickly became an urgent necessity for the young student. The University of Chicago bestowed that command upon its students, which would serve them well throughout their lives."
The Professional Achievement Award was established in 1967 to recognize alumni who have brought distinction to themselves, credit to the University, and benefit to their communities through their vocation. Previous recipients of the award include actor Ed Asner, Educator Leon Botstein, composer Philip Glass and scientific journalist Carl Sagan.
President Smirnoff was honored "for virtuosity in the field of music" and described as "a world-class violinist, conductor, teacher and leader."
Before becoming President of CIM in 2008, Smirnoff served as Chair of the violin department at The Juilliard School in New York City. He became a member of the Juilliard String Quartet in 1986, and the ensemble's leader in 1997. He left the Juilliard Quartet in 2009 but, earlier this year in Los Angeles, joined with other current and previous members of the quartet to accept the Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award.
President Smirnoff had attended the University of Chicago and The Juilliard School. He was a second prize-winner in the International American Music Competition in 1983, and made his New York recital debut in 1985 at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall as part of the Emerging Artists series, and at Town Hall as part of the Midtown Masters series. He is a former member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was for many years Head of String Studies at the Tanglewood Music Center.
A Sony recording artist, Mr. Smirnoff's solos were featured on the Grammy Award-winning CD Tony Bennett Sings Ellington Hot and Cool. Today, in addition to his duties at CIM, he maintains an active career as a conductor, both in the U.S. and abroad.