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.

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.  Russell conducted the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Stockholm Diary for string orchestra with the APU Symphony Orchestra in 2008.  In 2012, he conducted the world and European premieres of the orchestral version of Michael Daugherty’s Lost Vegas.  In 2013, he was a guest conductor at the MasterWorks Festival in Indiana.

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, in October 2013, the first U.S. performance in over 60 years of Martinů’s Intermezzo for orchestra.

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.

In his tours with the OCSA Symphony, Russell’s programs consistently feature new and unusual repertoire including works by Lindberg and Tanguy at their Carnegie Hall debut.  At the Sydney Opera House, they performed 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.  Their 2012 tour of England included new pieces by Tansy Davies and Michael Daugherty as well as the UK public premiere of Havergal Brian’s 27th Symphony.

Russell conducted students from OCSA and APU 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 Brett Dean, 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.

Russell earned his Bachelor’s degree in Composition from Cal State Fullerton and his Master’s degree in Conducting from Indiana University.  Born in New York City, Russell lives in Orange County with his wife and three children.