CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL is Professor of Orchestral Conducting at Azusa Pacific University and Coordinator of the Orchestra Program at the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA). Russell received his Bachelor’s degree in Composition from Cal State Fullerton and his Master’s degree in Conducting from Indiana University.
Russell has conducted numerous premieres, including the first U.S. performances of works by Brett Dean, Jonathan Harvey, Tristan Keuris, Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, Kaija Saariaho (two works), and Éric Tanguy. In 2008, Russell conducted the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Stockholm Diary for string orchestra with the Azusa Pacific University Symphony Orchestra.
He has conducted the U.S. premieres of rarely heard older music, including two British symphonies: Havergal Brian’s 32nd (1968) and Robert Simpson’s 7th (1977). His 2010 performance of the 5th Symphony (1926) by Danish composer Rued Langgaard was the first complete performance of any of Langgaard’s 16 symphonies in the United States.
For six consecutive years (1999-2004), ASCAP recognized Russell’s work with the OCHSA Symphony by presenting him with their Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, including First Place awards for four consecutive years. He also won the First Place award in 2009.
In 2006, Russell and the OCHSA Symphony Orchestra made their Carnegie Hall debut in a program that included works by Lindberg and Tanguy. In 2008, he travelled with the OCHSA Symphony to Sydney, Australia. Their performance at the Sydney Opera House included the Australian premiere of Fanfare for Los Angeles by Steven Stucky and what was believed to be the first Australian performance ever of Charles Ives’ 2nd Symphony. That trip was honored by ASCAP and the League of American Orchestras with their 2009 American Repertoire on Foreign Tours Award.
Russell has also conducted students from OCHSA for events with Los Angeles Philharmonic guest composers, including an Upbeat Live performance of HK Gruber’s Three Mob Pieces on the Green Umbrella Series and coaching sessions with Augusta Read Thomas and Brett Dean.
Russell and the OCHSA Symphony can be heard on the MMC Recordings label performing works ranging from Gluck and Beethoven to Stucky and Lindberg. While serving as the conductor of the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, Russell recorded music by Frederick Fox.
In addition to Upbeat Live lectures for the LA Phil, Russell has presented pre-concert lectures for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. Born in New York City, Russell lives in Orange County with his wife and three children.