Photos by Scott Preston
The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra announced today an agreement with John Morris Russell that extends the Conductor’s contract with the iconic ensemble for an additional five years starting in the 2014 15 season. Mr. Russell, who took over the Cincinnati Pops in September of 2011, will now lead the Orchestra through the 2018-19 season.
“Looking back to the last two and a half years, I am stunned by all we have created at the Pops – I am thrilled to continue on this incredible journey together with our amazing musicians, fantastic staff and our vibrant and engaged community,” said Mr. Russell. “I can’t wait to share our musical joy with Cincinnati and the world, for many years to come!”
The globally popular Cincinnati Pops has seen double digit increases in attendance over the past five years, and also under Mr. Russell’s leadership, a reemergence into commercial recording and touring. Highlights of his tenure so far include ten sold-out shows in the 3400-seat Music Hall, an expansion of the Lollipops Family Concert series, two commercial recordings that have each made Billboard’s charts, world premiers, two command performances at the 2012 World Choir Games, parks concerts throughout the community, conducting the USO Tribute Cincinnati Gala Concert last fall, and three consecutive years conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Classical Roots concert celebrating African-American musical traditions. Mr. Russell also shared the conducting podium with his colleague, CSO Music Director Louis Langrée, during the immensely successful LumenoCity event last August in Cincinnati’s Washington Park that drew 35,000 people over two nights.
“John is not only an extraordinary artistic leader for the Pops, but a true pillar in our community,” said Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra President Trey Devey. “He’s a great ambassador for the Orchestra, for music and really for all of the arts. John is passionate about creating wonderful musical experiences and truly engaging the community. We are absolutely thrilled to have his creativity and boundless enthusiasm.”
In addition to his position in Cincinnati, Mr. Russell is also Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina where the number of concerts have doubled since he took over in 2012. He is also Conductor Laureate of the Windsor Symphony and a popular guest conductor with orchestras throughout North America including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Toronto and Vancouver symphonies, and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Mr. Russell will open the coming 2014-15 Cincinnati Pops season conducting Disney’s Fantasia live in concert at Music Hall, and in December he will lead the Pops on a Florida tour, the first tour since the Pops performed in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics under the late Erich Kunzel. The tremendous season will close with spectacular concert presentations of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man featuring hundreds of performers.
The Pops has sold ten million recordings around the globe and has had more albums on the Billboard charts than any other orchestra in history. Later this year the Pops will release Carnival of the Animals, its 93rd commercial recording and the third with Mr. Russell, and in January record its 94th American Originals: Live from Music Hall, which will feature Rosanne Cash, Dom Lemons, and the indie rock duo Over the Rhine, among others.
Mr. Russell next conducts the Cincinnati Pops on April 4, 5 and 6 with Pixar in Concert.