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October 22, 2015

CIM President Announces Retirement


Cleveland Institute of Music President Joel Smirnoff has announced his decision to retire from presidential and administrative duties as of December 31, 2015 and to continue his teaching until the end of the 2015-16 school year. President Smirnoff plans to concentrate on new and creative musical projects, while continuing to conduct, compose and teach. He made his announcement in October at CIM's quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to thank President Smirnoff for his leadership of CIM and for sharing his creative musical vision with us. He leaves behind a legacy of musical excellence, energy and an increased presence of CIM locally and globally,” said Richard J. Hipple, Chair of CIM’s Board of Trustees.

President Smirnoff joined CIM in 2008 and has made many lasting contributions, including:

  • Strategic planning that included a higher worldwide profile for CIM and increased performing opportunities for students, faculty and guest artists;
  • The establishment of several new degree programs in composition and performance and a new Cultural Seminar;
  • Collaborations, master classes for students and performances by celebrated artists such as Frederica von Stade, Yefim Bronfman, Midori and Emanuel Ax;
  • Initiation of the biennial “Celebration of Community” with the Cleveland School of the Arts at Severance Hall;
  • The commission and world premiere of the Daniil Trifonov Piano Concerto; and
  • Honorary Doctorates awarded to Ms. von Stade, Tony Bennett, Van Cliburn, Itzhak and Toby Perlman.

Prior to joining CIM, President Smirnoff was a member of the Juilliard String Quartet for 23 years, winning a 2011 Lifetime Grammy Award with this ensemble. He made his American conducting debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2000 and conducts orchestras throughout the world, including the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra and the Basel Sinfonietta. As a jazz soloist, he has been featured on albums with Tony Bennett and in performance with Gunther Schuller and the American Jazz Orchestra, and the Billy Taylor Trio.

CIM has formed a Presidential Search Committee comprised of faculty, staff, trustees and alumni. Additional information regarding the search for President Smirnoff’s successor and the transition process will be provided in the near future.