John Williams at Symphony Hall in Boston

In January 1980, John Williams was named nineteenth Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra since its founding in 1885.

He assumed the title of Boston Pops Laureate Conductor following his retirement in December 1993, and currently holds the title of Artist-in-Residence at Tanglewood.

Arthur Fiedler was conductor of the Boston Pops from 1930 until his death in 1979.

Tamara Smirnova
First Associate Concertmaster, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Helen Horner McIntyre chair, endowed in perpetuity

Concertmaster, Boston Pops Orchestra
Beranek chair, endowed in perpetuity

Born in 1958 in Siberia, Tamara Smirnova is first associate concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Boston Pops Orchestra. Smirnova started playing the violin at the age of 6 and graduated in 1981 from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, where she studied with Eugenia Chugaeva. Upon completing her studies, she moved to Zagreb, where she became the youngest-ever concertmaster of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. While in Zagreb, Smirnova won acclaim for her numerous solo recitals and solo appearances with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra, Zagreb Soloists, and Dubrovnik City Orchestra, among others. She has also appeared with orchestras in the former Soviet Union and concertized in the former Czechoslovakia, former West Germany, Belgium, and Great Britain. A bronze medalist in the 1985 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Smirnova performs regularly at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and won the 1988 Milka Trnina award from the Croatian Musicians Association. In November 1986 she made her acclaimed American recital debut at Jordan Hall in a benefit performance for Project STEP — String Training and Educational Programs for Students of Color. She has performed regularly as a concert soloist with the Boston Pops Orchestra and many other New England orchestras, as well as throughout California. In November 1989 she made her first BSO appearance as a concert soloist during the orchestra’s subscription season. Smirnova has recorded for Jugoton and has been a lecturer at the Music Academy in Zagreb.

Ann Hobson Pilot
Principal Harp (joined the Boston Symphony in 1969, retired in 2009)

Composer John Williams and soloist Ann Hobson Pilot after the premiere performance of „On Willows and Birches,“ Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, on September 23, 2009

John Williams wrote his harp concerto for Pilot to honor her on her retirement after 40 years with the orchestra.

Keisuke Wakao
Assistant Principal Oboe, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Farla and Harvey Chet Krentzman chair, endowed in perpetuity

Principal Oboe, Boston Pops Orchestra

Keisuke Wakao was appointed assistant principal oboe of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and principal oboe of the Boston Pops in the fall of 1990. He was previously a member of the New World Symphony from its 1988 inaugural season. A native of Tokyo, Wakao performed with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa in 1985 and made his concerto debut with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra under Kazuyoshi Akiyama in the summer of 1989. He made his Tokyo recital debut in 1997 and performed with pianist Christoph Eschenbach in a recital at Sapporo’s 1998 Pacific Music Festival.

Wakao received his performance diploma from Manhattan School of Music, where he served on the faculty following his graduation in 1987. His teachers include former New York Philharmonic principal oboe Joseph Robinson at Manhattan School of Music, and former Boston Symphony Orchestra principals Alfred Genovese and Ralph Gomberg at Tanglewood, where he was a TMC Fellow. A talented teacher himself, Wakao founded the annual Keisuke Wakao Oboe Camp in Tokyo in 1988 and is currently on the faculties of both New England Conservatory and Longy School of Music. He is also director of Daikanyama Hillside Terrace Music Festival in Tokyo; founder of the Church of the Redeemer Concert Series in Chestnut Hill, and the Ventfort Hall Summer Chamber Music Concert Series in Lenox; and sponsor of the American-Japanese Cultural Concert Series, which featured performances with Emmanuel Ax in 2010.

Wakao has made three solo recordings on the Denon label, including “Abendlied” (1997) with pianist Christoph Eschenbach, and “Keisuke Wakao Plays John Williams” (1998), a disc featuring film music by John Williams, with whom Keisuke also collaborated in a performance of the Mozart Oboe Concerto with the Boston Pops in 1994. Williams has also written an oboe concerto for Wakao, which saw its world premiere on May 25 and 26, 2011, with Williams conducting the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall in Boston.

Symphony Hall, Boston