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CIM president Joel Smirnoff leads CIM orchestra through exquisite performances of Mozart, Bartók, Beethoven

Zsolt Bognar

Issue date: 11/12/10 Section: Focus
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Joel Smirnoff, in his second year as CIM president after arriving from Juilliard, excitedly guest conducted the CIM orchestra two weeks ago.
Media Credit: daniel milner
Joel Smirnoff, in his second year as CIM president after arriving from Juilliard, excitedly guest conducted the CIM orchestra two weeks ago.
[Click to enlarge]
The Cleveland Institute of Music student orchestra took center stage Oct. 27 in a special collaboration with CIM's new president Joel Smirnoff in a lively program of works by Mozart, Bartók, and Beethoven. The level of playing from the orchestra, violin soloist, and conductor re-affirmed why the school is one of the world's leading music conservatories, and why the community benefits from performances that are on par with professional orchestras'. The nearly weekly programs from the CIM orchestra under director Carl Topliow enrich the musical life in University Circle with many free concerts available to the community and students, and showcase the talents of the school's young and rising musicians.

Guest conductor Joel Smirnoff, in his second year as president of CIM, is known to the musical world as the long-standing first violinist of the legendary Julliard School until the end of the 2008-09 season, as well as for his role as chairman of the Julliard Violin Department until his move to Cleveland. Mr. Smirnoff has also been noted for an active career in conducting since his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2000, and brought his energetic musical leadership to the program the night of Oct. 27. The first half of the program, which began with Mozart's overture to Don Giovanni, showed the orchestra in fine form and balance, with a capacity to navigate the work's gravitas with dramatic expansiveness.

CIM Concerto Competition winner Mason Yu was the soloist in the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2, a demanding and optimistic work whose U.S. premiere was in Cleveland in 1943 with the Cleveland Orchestra under Artur Rodzínski. Mr. Yu's traversal of the work was masterful in its virtuosity and emotional command. These qualities are all the more remarkable when noted that Mr. Yu, a freshman student of Paul Kantor, performs in equal measure as a pianist, which he also studies at CIM with Gerardo Teissonnière. Speaking of his diverse musical activities, Yu said, "I know that I want to use music as a career but I'm still very open to career choices. I used to only wish to be a soloist, but chamber music and orchestra are also very appealing to me. The Bartók is my favorite concerto."
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Issue Summary

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Focus

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