Winter Dreams of Pachelbel & Tchaikovsky Fill the Air at HSO Concerts

HSO Principal violist Michael Wheeler

Legendary Conductor and Violinist Joel Smirnoff to Make Hartford Symphony Debut

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra will perform some of the most memorable string compositions in the world at Pachelbel & Tchaikovsky on Thursday, November 29- Sunday, December 2, 2012 at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. Led by eminent Julliard String Quartet violinist and conductor Joel Smirnoff in his HSO debut, this wintry program will highlight the magnificent sounds of the HSO string sections on Pachelbel’s Canon in D, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 (“Winter Dreams”), Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major, featuring HSO Principal violist Michael Wheeler.

This program will open with Pachelbel’s beloved Canon in D Major, whose graceful melody and heartwarming harmonies have made it a favorite for weddings, holidays, and special occasions. Next, the HSO string section will perform Vaughan Williams’ radiant and moving Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Based on an evocative hymn by the 16th century Tudor composer Thomas Tallis, Vaughan Williams moves the audience through a sonorous, thoughtful theme and variations.   HSO Principal violist Michael Wheeler will step into the spotlight for Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G Major. The concerto, which was the first piece of its kind for solo viola, captures the emotional range of the instrument, from somber and melancholy to bright and dancing. The program will close with Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony, which he nicknamed “Winter Dreams.” In this symphony, Tchaikovsky presents his youthful impressions of the harsh Russian winters that were so integral to his personal and artistic development.

Conductor, violinist and eminent pedagogue Joel Smirnoff made his official American conducting debut in 2000 with the San Francisco Symphony.  Guest conducting engagements include the Amarillo Symphony, Chicago Philharmonic, Juilliard Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, Texas Music Festival Orchestra, and more. Former member of the Juilliard String Quartet and former Chair of Violin Studies at The Juilliard School, Mr. Smirnoff received both the Lifetime Grammy Award for his recorded work with the Juilliard String Quartet and an Alumni Professional Achievement Award from the University of Chicago in 2011.

Michael Wheeler, currently the HSO Principal Viola, has performed with the New World Symphony, Portland Symphony, Boston Classical Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and  San Antonio Symphony. Mr. Wheeler has been a recitalist and chamber music player throughout New England performing with the Island Chamber Players and Karas String Quartet. He is on faculty at The Hartt School Community Division and lives in West Hartford with his wife, pianist, Ruriko Kagiyama, and their three daughters.

Conductor Joel Smirnoff

Calendar Listing:

Featuring Joel Smirnoff, guest conductor; Michael Wheeler, HSO Principal viola
Thursday, November 29, 2012 │ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 30, 2012 │ 8:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 1, 2012 │ 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 2, 2012 │ 3:00 p.m.
Belding Theater │ The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts
Program: Johann Pachelbel: Canon in D Major; Georg Philipp Telemann: Concerto for Viola, Strings, and Continuo in G Major; Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Pyotr Ilyich Tchiakovsky: Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13, “Winter Dreams”
Ticket Information: Tickets to this concert range in price from $35.50-$70.50. Student tickets are $10. On Saturday, December 1, $25 tickets are available for patrons age 40 and under. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact HSO ticket services at (860) 244-2999 or visit

The 2012-2013 Masterworks Series is sponsored by MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, with additional concert support from Cigna, Hartford Hospital, and the Katharine K. McLane and Henry R. McLane Charitable Trust. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-2013 season is sponsored by Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. The Hartford Symphony Orchestra receives major support from the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.