Joel Smirnoff, first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, has been appointed president of the Cleveland Institute of Music, effective this past July 1. The announcement was made official by the institute on April 30. Mr. Smirnoff, who has served as chair of Juilliard's violin department since 2000, will continue to perform with the J.S.Q. and teach at Juilliard during this transitional academic year as the quartet chooses a new member. On the Juilliard faculty since 1986 (when he also joined the J.S.Q.), Mr. Smirnoff became the ensemble’s first violinist in 1997, when founding member Robert Mann retired after 50 years.
Mr. Smirnoff’s appointment concluded a national search process that began in October 2006, when David Cerone announced his pending retirement as the Cleveland Institute’s president. A. Malachi Mixon III, chair of the school’s board of trustees, said that the search committee’s decision had been unanimous, adding, “We have in Joel Smirnoff a leader for C.I.M. consistent with our classical traditions; a gifted teacher and virtuoso performer. He brings a tremendous background of experiences to C.I.M. and with him in place I see a future that continues to be very bright and exciting for our school.”
Mr. Smirnoff will oversee the vision, leadership, and management of C.I.M. and will be charged with maintaining its financial stability while the school attains its next level of excellence. “I am very aware of the Cleveland Institute’s great history and feel so deeply honored to have been chosen to become a part of it,” he remarked upon his appointment. “I have every intention of continuing, in tandem with the institute’s wonderful faculty and staff, the deep commitment the school has made to the expressive potential of great music, to the lives of young musicians all over the world and to the Cleveland community.”
Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi said, “Joel Smirnoff’s artistry, intellect, and integrity will make him an extraordinary president of the Cleveland Institute of Music. We will all miss Joel’s exceptional leadership and his warm personality, and we wish him the very best in this important new endeavor. We look forward to welcoming a new member of the Juilliard String Quartet to the Juilliard community.”