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    Smirnova, Tamara (1958 – Present)

    Violinist from Siberia who began playing at six years of age and attended Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory where she took formal lessons with Eugenia Chugaeva.  In 1981, she graduated and took part in the International Violin Competition, which was hosted by Munich, Germany.  She won a bronze medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium, in 1985.

     

    She joined the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra as their concertmaster (the youngest person to have held that position with them) and violinist and taught at the Zagreb Music Academy. 

     

    Other groups with whom she has worked include the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Quartet, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Dubrovnik City Orchestra, the Dubrovnik Festival Orchestra, the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, the Shasta Symphony Orchestra, the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra, the Split Chamber Orchestra, and the Zagreb Soloists.

     

    In 1986, she made her American debut at Jordan Hall and became concertmaster and violinist with the Boston Pops and BSO. 

     

    She has been frequently hand-picked for solos throughout the years, picking up quickly on film music such as Fiddler on the Roof, as she did on 30th April 1988, under the baton of John Williams.  On 23rd July 1988, she shared the stage with Sammy Davis, Jr., on the television program, Evening at Pops, on which she performed the “Meditation” from Jules Massenet’s Thais.  Before the year was out, she was honoured by the Croatian Musicians Association with their highest accolade, the Milka Trnina.

     

    Her association with the Boston Pops has led to some interesting collaborations.  On 14th July 1991, Patti Austin and James Ingram sang “Baby, Come to Me” in the same program that included Tamara interpreting miniatures composed by Fritz Kreisler.

     

    Tamara teamed up with Tatiana Yampolsky for an evening of piano and violin at the National Gallery’s West Garden Court in January 1992.  In November 1992, she was again tapped as the soloist for the BSO’s performance of Paul Hindemith’s “Kammermusik”.  It was a year that found her in eclectic company on Evening at Pops with the likes of Sarah Chang, Mark O’Connor, Bonnie Raitt, John Raitt, and Jule Styne.

     

    In November 1993, John Williams wound down his tenure with the Boston Pops, but he would return many times to conduct his own music and others’.  One such example was “A Night at the Movies” at Tanglewood on 29th August 1994, when Tamara played the violin solo on his “Main Theme” from Schindler’s List.

     

    She helped christen the New Philharmonia Orchestra by appearing as a guest soloist in their inaugural 1995-1996 for an all-Tchaikovsky program that featured his “Polonaise” from Eugene Onegin, “Symphony No. 4”, and “Violin Concerto”.

     

    Tamara appeared on several CDs in the 1990s, including The Age of Classics:  Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Beethoven:  Portrait of a Master, The Classical Age, The Classical Age (Vol 2):  Simply Classical, Fifty Enchanting Classics, Vol. 1-4, 50 Romantic Classics, Holiday Pops, Meet the Classics, Meet the Classics:  Beethoven, Romantic Enchantment, A Splash of Pops, and Williams on Williams:  The Classic Spielberg Scores. 

     

    On 26th May 1999, she and the rest of the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus delivered the live world premiere of highlights from Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace by John Williams, with the composer conducting.  Again, it was another variegated evening that also featured the talents of Vic Damone and Dianne Reeves.  John and the Boston Pops returned to Tanglewood on 1st September 1999, when Tamara played the violin solo from David Raksin’s “Laura”.

     

    On 16th October 1999, Tamara was the guest soloist with Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra for Henryk Wieniawski’s “Violin Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 22”, which was sandwiched between the overture from Mikhail Glinka’s Russlan and Ludmilla and Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90”.

     

    She was a key player in an all-Richard Strauss affair on 28th August 2000 that featured her accompanying Dame Felicity Lott on the master’s “Four Last Songs”.  The concert was rounded out by his “Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat” and “Symphonia Domestica”.

     

    On 14th October 2000, Mandy Patinkin joined forces with the Boston Pops for the Boston Symphony Hall Centennial Gala Concert.  The actor-singer entertained with a pair of medleys, “Loving You/If I Loved You” and “Singing in the Bathtub/Barber of Seville/Singing in the Rain”. 

     

    Tamara has also proven to be very quick at thinking on her feet.  In January 2001, Gil Shaham was in the middle of the third movement of Brahms’ “Violin Concerto” when one of his strings broke.  He quickly traded violins with Tamara and continued without missing a beat.  To top it off, she managed to restring and retune his violin, handing it back to him before the end of the concerto.

     

    Ingo Metzmacher was the guest conductor in April 2001 for a program inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The program comprised “Symphony No. 8” by Hans Werner Henze, “Violin Concerto in E minor” by Felix Mendelssohn, and the overture from Grand Romantic and Fairy Opera by Carl Maria von Weber.  Tamara “played” the Fairy Queen, Titania, in the Henze symphony.

     

    In October 2001, Nurit Bar-Joseph, Malcolm Lowe and Tamara were the featured soloists for Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto in D for 3 Violins” at Symphony Hall under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. 

     

    Tamara returned to Zagreb in 2002 and 2003 for a handful of performances, including solo violin works by J.S. Bach at Zagreb Cathedral and the second violin concerto of Max Bruch in tandem with Federica Cortesea and the Zagreb Philharmonic.

     

    On 12th March 2003, she was accompanied by pianist Zadranka Garin for a recital in the HNK Split Foyer.  The audience was treated to Bela Bartok’s “Romanian Dances”, Riccardo Drigo’sValse Bluette”, Sir Edward Elgar’s “La capricieuse op. 17”, Alexander Glazunov’s “Meditation op. 32”, Dora Pejacevic’s “Five Miniatures”, Sergei Prokofiev’s “March” from A Love for Three Oranges, Anton Rubinstein’s “Melody op. 32 no. 1”, Pablo de Sarasate’sGuitarra”, Tchaikovsky’s “Melody op. 42” and “Waltz-Scherzo op. 34”, and the second movement from Wieniawski’s aforementioned second violin concerto.

     

    Tamara teamed up with cellist Mihail Jojatsu for a noon concert at Goddard Chapel in April 2003.  In May 2003, the Boston Pops reunited with John Williams for a concert of film music and Mozart, specifically his “Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216”, with Tamara again doing a solo turn.

     

    The Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music took place in July 2003.  Tamara helped close out the festivities with the Margaret Lee Crofts Concert on 21st July at Ozawa Hall.  The evening featured “Concerto for Orchestra” by Jennifer Higdon, “Palimpsest 1 & 2” by George Benjamin, “Summer Lightning” by Jacob Druckman, and “Violin Concerto” by Oliver Knussen, with Tamara as soloist.

     

    She rejoined Mihail Jojatu for a pair of cello-violin duos by George Frideric Handel and Zoltan Kodaly at West Cummington Congregational Church on 4th September 2003.

     

    In May 2004, she and the Boston Pops did a series of concerts with John Williams, which featured her solo work on music from Far and Away and Fiddler on the Roof.  These were followed by similar concerts in April and May 2005.

     

    On 31st May 2005, Tamara was a featured soloist on WCRB-FM’s Classical Countdown, on which she performed the “Violin Concerto” of Anton Arensky.  The Presidents’ Concert took place a day later and was attended by Boston luminaries, Thomas Menino and Mitt Romney.  In August 2005, it was back to Tanglewood for another reunion with Conductor Laureate, John Williams.  Keith Lockhart was at the helm for the Holiday Pops concert in December 2005, with special guest, soprano Kathryn Skemp.

     

    On 10th March 2006, the BSO and James Levine teamed up with mezzo-soprano, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, at Verizon Hall.  The program included Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92”, Elliott Carter’s “Three Illusions”, Peter Lieberson’s “Neruda Songs”, and Richard Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28”.

     

    It was an all-Mozart affair in April 2006 when Tamara was one of four string soloists who shone on “Serenata notturna”, which was the opening act for “Symphony No. 39 in E flat”.  In May 2006, she was again one of the featured solo players for a John Williams Spectacular at Symphony Hall, doing the heavy lifting in excerpts from Memoirs of a Geisha.

     

    The BSO was back at Tanglewood in August 2006 for a performance of J.S. Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 3”, with Tamara again assuming responsibility for some of the more difficult passages.

     

    On 28th October 2006, she was a guest artist, along with violist Michael Zaretsky, at the Palace Theatre with the New Hampshire Philharmonic for “Sinfonia Concertante in E flat, K. 364” by Mozart on an evening that was rounded out by “Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 2” by Ottorino Respighi and “Hary Janos Suite” by Zoltan Kodaly.

     

    She and cellist Mihail Jojatu performed Brahms’ “Double Concerto” with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center on 31st March 2007.  It was the centerpiece for an evening that started with the overture from The Magic Flute by Mozart and The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky.

     

    More Brahms was on tap on 6th May 2007 when Tamara performed his “Violin Concerto, Op. 77” with the New Symphony Orchestra in a subscription concert that concluded with Antonin Dvorak’s “Symphony No. 7”.

     

    Before the year was out, she and the rest of the Boston Quartet added a rather unusual credit to their resumes:  They performed on Olivier Deriviere’s soundtrack for the video game, Obscure 2.

     

    On 16th March 2008, Daniele Gatti was the guest conductor as the BSO offered up “Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 64” by Robert Schumann, with Garrick Ohlsson at the keys, and “Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47” by Dmitri Shostakovich.

     

    The Boston Pops performed The George and Roberta Berry Supporting Organization Concert on 28th July 2009.  Entitled “Film Night at Tanglewood”, it featured the talents of actor Frank Langella and Tamara, who performed the violin solos for the themes from Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Now Voyager.

     

    James Taylor was the special guest on 31st August 2009 when the Boston Pops returned to Tanglewood for a concert that combined his compositions with those of John Williams and other film composers.  One of the highlights was Tamara’s solo turn on Ennio Morricone’s theme from the Italian film, Cinema Paradiso.

     

    Obscure:  The Aftermath was in stores in time for the holiday shopping season, and again Olivier Deriviere turned to Tamara and the Boston Quartet for string support on the soundtrack.

     

    The year ended with the annual Holiday Pops concert in December 2009.  Keith Lockhart combined the sacred with the secular in a performance that included a reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas”, a Merry Sing-Along, The Christmas Story, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, David Chase’s humourous take on the Christmas classic.

     

    The BSO rang in the new year with guest conductor Colin Davis and soloist Nikolaj Znaider, who played the “Violin Concerto” of Sir Edward Elgar, and their rendering of “Symphony No. 38” (“Prague”) by Mozart. 

     

    On 13th April 2010, Julian Kuerti, their assistant conductor, wielded the baton as they performed “Concert Romanesc” by Gyorgy Ligeti, with Tamara charged to play some challenging solos, “Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor” by Shostakovich and “Symphony No. 2 in C minor” by Tchaikovsky.

     

    Tamara and harpsichordist John Gibbons, cellist Sam Ou and pianist Dina Vainshtein took part in a faculty recital in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory that shone the spotlight on violist Dubravka Moshfegh on 25th April 2010.

     

    Doc Severinsen was the start of the show on 5th May 2010 when the Boston Pops were joined by him and The San Miguel Five, but Tamara was one of the highlights of the show as she played the solo from “Jalousie”, a Pops standard that was purportedly the first song to sell over one million records.

     

    A few weeks later, the Pops were joined by Dave Brubeck, who performed several of his own compositions, such as “The Basie Band is Back in Town”, “Blue Rondo a la Turk”, “La Fiesta de la Posada”, “Summer Music”, and “Take Five”.  Tamara and fellow violinist Bonnie Bewick wowed the audience with their imitation of Stephane Grappelli on “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Skylark” to honour the 100th birthday of his frequent collaborator, Django Reinhardt.

     

    Another anniversary was celebrated in 2010, the 30th year of John Williams’ affiliation with the Boston Pops.  The evening naturally featured much of his own music, including the aforementioned theme from Schindler’s List.  Again, Tamara was tapped to play the haunting solo passages. 

     

    The Boston Bar Association Orchestra presented its 25th Anniversary Concert on 14th July 2010.  The festive occasion featured Tamara and fellow violinist Madina Nepomnyashya performing Mozart’s “Concertone in C for Two Violins”, as well as Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte”, and highlights from Camelot and Les Miserables.

     

    Tamara and Michael Zaretsky appeared at Plainfield Congregational Church for a recital of works for viola and violin by J.S. Bach, Paul Hindemith and Bohuslav Martinu on 22nd August 2010.

     

    On 24th August 2010, the BSO were joined by guest conductor Ludovic Morlot and soprano Dawn Upshaw for Joseph Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne” and Osvaldo Golijov’s “Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra”, which were bookended by Mozart’s “Symphony No. 31 in D” (“Paris”) and Ravel’s “Ma Mere l’Oye” (“Mother Goose”).

     

    Evgeny Kissin was guest soloist on 31st March 2011 when John Nelson conducted the BSO at Symphony Hall.  He earned his money playing not one but two concertos, Frederic Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11” and Edvard Grieg’s “Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16”.  Tamara stood out particularly on the two other offerings on the bill, Franz Liszt’s “Mephisto Waltz No. 1” and his symphonic poem, “Orpheus”.

     

    On 10th April 2011, Tamara and cellist Natasha Brofsy, violist Roger Tapping and oboist Keisuke Wakao played a benefit concerto at the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill.

     

    It was all hands on deck at Symphony Hall on 21st April 2011 when Masaaki Suzuki conducted the BSO and John Oliver conducted the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, BWV 245.

     

    In May 2011, the Boston Pops delivered the world premiere of John Williams’ “Concerto for Oboe”, with the composer conducting.  An Audrey Hepburn tribute featured Tamara playing solo violin on the main theme from Sabrina.

     

    Steven Reineke was the guest conductor and Stephanie Block and Julie Murney were the guest vocalists at Symphony Hall in June 2011 when the Boston Pops offered up a confection of Broadway treats that included Tamara soloing on an instrumental rendition of “Over the Rainbow”, which served as an introduction to three songs from Wicked.

     

    Jean-Yves Thibaudet was the BSO’s guest at the Tanglewood Shed from 22nd July through 24th July with a series of Ravel concerts that culminated with his “Ma Mere l’Oye” (“Mother Goose”) and featured Tamara’s violin heavily in the movements entitled “The Fairy Garden” and “Beauty and the Beast”.

     

    In addition to her extremely busy performing and recording schedule, she has also served on the faculty of the Boston Conservatory.  Her students have included Mariana Green-Hill, Ryan MacEvoy McCullough, Lidija Peno, and Violeta Smailovic-Huart.

     

    Tamara recently finished recording the soundtrack of the theatrical release, Phileas Fortune.

    Other recordings on which she appears include American Visions, Beethoven:  Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, The Celtic Album, The Latin Album, Mendelssohn/Beethoven/Tchaikovsky:  Violin Concertos, and My Favorite Things:  A Richard Rodgers Celebration.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.bso.org/bso/mods/bios_detail.jsp?id=2100089
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    Boston Pops Orchestra Recordings

    With Voices Raised (Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty)

    Conductor - Keith Lockhart

    Tenor -  Jason Danieley

    RCA 63516 (CD: A Splash of Pops)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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