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 and Chair of the Music Performance Department. The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique”.
Recent guest conducting engagements include multiple performances at the MasterWorks Festival in Indiana and Ohio, the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil, and two concerts in China: the International Orchestra Festival in Zhengzhou, China and the Yellow River Symphony. He was a member of the jury for final round of the Hong Kong International Music Competition in 2017 and 2018. Also in 2018, Russell was guest lecturer at the opening of new arts centers in two Chinese cities: Dalian and Qingdao.
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 symphonies by British composers Havergal Brian 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 and the West Coast premieres of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7, Allan Pettersson’s Symphony No. 7, and Martinu’s Intermezzo for Large Orchestra. He also conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ 2nd Symphony and, in 2018, the Russian premiere of Peter Mennin’s Symphony No. 5 (1950)
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.
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.