Christopher Russell is Associate Professor at Azusa Pacific University and Coordinator of the Orchestra Program at the Orange County School of theArts (OCSA). He is Chair of APU’s Performing Arts Department. Russell received his Bachelor’s degree in Composition from Cal State Fullerton and his Master’s degree in Conducting from Indiana University. The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique.”
Recent guest conducting appearances include the MasterWorks Festival (2013-14, 16), the International Orchestra Festival in Zhengzhou, China (2015), the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil (2016), and the Yellow River Symphony in China (2017). He was a jury member for the final round of the 4th Hong Kong International Music Festival (2017)
Russell has conducted numerous premieres, including the first U.S. performances of works by Jonathan Harvey, Anders Hillborg, Tristan Keuris, Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, and two works each by Tansy Davies Brett Dean, Kaija Saariaho 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 was personally coached by Salonen for that performance. An advocate of American music abroad, Russell conducted the first performances in Australia and Brazil of Ives’ Symphony No. 2. He has conducted in some of the world’s most famous concert halls including Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House as well as prestigious concert halls in London, Birmingham (UK), Vienna, Bratislava and Prague.
Russell has recorded for Toccata Classics, MMC Recordings, and the recording label of Indiana University. He conducted a string orchestra of APU Symphony students for the recording “The Pursuit of God” with Christian recording artist Tommy Walker along with APU faculty member and LA Phil violinist Ingrid Chun.
He is a regular pre-concert lecturer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. For the LA Phil, he has hosted post-concert discussions on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage with musicians such as Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Dawn Upshaw and Emanuel Ax.