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 Performing Arts 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 (2013-14, 2016), the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil (2016), and two concerts in China: the International Orchestra Festival in Zhengzhou, China (2015) and the Yellow River Symphony (2017). He was a member of the jury for the 4th Hong Kong International Music Competition in 2017.
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 Seventh (1977). In addition, he conducted the first complete performance of any of Danish composer Rued Langgaard’s 16 symphonies in the United States, the first U.S. performance in over 60 years of Martinů’s Intermezzo for orchestra, and the West Coast premieres of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7 and the 7th Symphony (1968) by Allan Pettersson, marking the first performance of a Pettersson symphony in the U.S. in almost 30 years. He conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ Second 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.
In addition to Upbeat Live lectures for the LA Phil, Russell presents pre-concert lectures for the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Born in New York City, Russell lives in Orange County with his wife and three children.