Conservatory swoops for Cleveland Orch chief

Conservatory swoops for Cleveland Orch chief


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2015

Gary Hanson retires as executive director of the Cleveland Orchestra on December 31.

On January 1 he starts as interim president of Cleveland Institute of Music.

Here’s what he’s telling friends:

gary hanson

As I pack up my Severance Hall office, I want to let you know personally, and before you see it in the press, that I will be serving as Interim President of the Cleveland Institute of Music beginning in January.  The Institute’s long-time President, Joel Smirnoff, will retire at the end of 2015 and the search for his permanent successor is underway.    I am inspired by CIM’s mission and honored that CIM’s board leaders invited me to serve the institution following Joel’s retirement.  Taking on this temporary role is consistent with my desire to serve the community in new ways, though I confess I didn’t expect to be doing so this quickly.



And here’s the press release:

(Cleveland, OH – December 11, 2015) The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) announces that Gary

Hanson, retiring executive director of The Cleveland Orchestra, has been named Interim President of CIM. Mr. Hanson was appointed at a special meeting of the CIM Board of Trustees, held today and will begin his term January 1, 2016. In October, CIM’s current president, Joel Smirnoff, announced his retirement from administrative duties at CIM, effective December 31, 2015.

Mr. Hanson will complete his term as Executive Director of The Cleveland Orchestra (TCO) onDecember 31, 2015, a position he has held for more than 11 of the 28 years he served with the orchestra. Under his leadership, TCO built its annual residency in Miami, added both opera and ballet to the season in Cleveland and ushered in the nation’s youngest audience for a symphony orchestra. Mr. Hanson is a trained double bass player, having studied music in Canada and Europe.

“On behalf of the Board, I am pleased to welcome Mr. Hanson to the Cleveland Institute of Music. His superior administrative skills are evident in the extraordinary growth experienced by The Cleveland Orchestra, in its audience, global presence and community engagement. The Board and I are excited to work with Mr. Hanson as we continue our search for a permanent CIM president,” said Richard J.Hipple, Chair of the CIM Board of Trustees.

“Over the course of my time at The Cleveland Orchestra I have experienced the outstanding talent of Cleveland Institute of Music students and the dedication of their faculty. I am inspired by CIM’s mission and look forward to the opportunity to serve the institution during this important time of leadership transition,” said Mr. Hanson.


  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Joel Smirnoff began as CIM Prez in 2008. 7+ years, is that long-term? David Cerone was President from 1985-2008; that’s long-term!

    I’m sure that Gary Hanson will be an excellent place-holder as the search begins. Norman, I’m sure, will keep us posted as this more-than-interesting rite of succession plays out. Will Joel stay on the faculty at CIM or return to Juilliard? Is there a back-story here?