About the educator

Christopher Russell

Christopher Russell


CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL conducts two orchestras in Southern California: the Azusa Pacific University (APU) Symphony and the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Symphony Orchestra.  He is an Associate Professor at APU’s College of Music and the Arts.  The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique”.

Recent guest conducting appearances include the MasterWorks Festival (2013-14, 16), the International Orchestra Festival in Zhengzhou, China (2015) and the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil (2016).

Russell has conducted numerous premieres, including the first U.S. performances of works by Tansy Davies, Brett Dean, Jonathan Harvey, Anders Hillborg, Tristan Keuris, Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, Kaija Saariaho and Éric Tanguy.  Premiere highlights include conducting the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Stockholm Diary for string orchestra with the APU Symphony Orchestra and the world and European premieres of the orchestral version of Michael Daugherty’s Lost Vegas

Russell’s musical interest also extends to performing rarely-heard older music including the U.S. premieres of three British symphonies: Havergal Brian’s 27th (1966) and 32nd (1968) and Robert Simpson’s 7th (1977). In addition, he conducted the first complete performance of any of Danish composer Rued Langgaard’s 16 symphonies in the United States, the West Coast premiere of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7, the 7th Symphony (1968) by Allan Pettersson marking the first performance of a Pettersson symphony in the U.S. in almost 30 years and the first U.S. performance in over 60 years of Martinů’s Intermezzo for orchestra.  He conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ 2nd Symphony. 

In 2015, Russell conducted the world premiere of the Symphony in A composed in 1878 by Leopold Damrosch with the APU Symphony.  They recorded an all-Damrosch disc for Toccata Classics, which was released in late 2015.

ASCAP recognized Russell’s work with the OCSA Symphony by presenting him with their Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music eight times including First Place awards for four consecutive years .  He’s also been awarded the American Repertoire on Foreign Tours Award for his 2008 performances in Australia.


Russell conducted students from OCSA and APU for events with Los Angeles Philharmonic guest composers, including Brett Dean, HK Gruber, Anders Hillborg and Augusta Read Thomas.

In addition to Upbeat Live lectures for the LA Phil, Russell presents pre-concert lectures for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.