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Christopher Russell

Educator

About this Artist

CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL is Associate Professor and Chair of the Music Performance department at Azusa Pacific University (APU) in Southern California. He is conductor of the APU Symphony Orchestra and leads their graduate instrumental conducting program. The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique”.  

Guest conducting appearances include the MasterWorks Festival in Ohio and Indiana, the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil, the International Orchestra Festival and the Yellow River Symphony in Zhengzhou, China,.  He has also conducted at Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and prestigious concert halls in London, Vienna, Prague, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg.  In 2017 and 2018, he was a judge in the final round of the Hong Kong International Music Festival.  Also in 2018, he presented lectures at the openings of two new theaters in China: the Florence Culture and Arts Exchange Center in Dalian and the Sound of the Phoenix Theater in Qingdao.  In 2019, he returned to China for guest conducting engagements with the Harbin Symphony and the Shenzhen City Philharmonic.

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. or California premieres of many works from the early and mid-20th century including music by Havergal Brian, Rued Langgaard, Bohuslav Martinu, and Allan Pettersson. An advocate for conducting American music abroad, he conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ 2nd Symphony and Russian premiere of Peter Mennin’s Symphony No. 5.  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 which was internationally released on the British record label Toccata Classics.

For over 20 years until 2019, he conducted the Orange County School of the Arts Symphony Orchestra where he regularly received accolades for the orchestra’s quality and adventurous programming. The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers has awarded him their prestigious Award for Programming of Contemporary Music for youth orchestras on ten occasions.  Seven of those times, he was awarded first place in the United States.