Weekly Feature

2018-08-15 / Local News

BPO extends John Morris Russell’s contract

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Pops Conductor, John Morris Russell, have agreed to extend their contract for three more years after the initial agreement expires in August 2019.

Russell will continue to conduct at least five Pops programs per season and will take the lead in planning Pops programming.

“John has infused our Pops series with a new level of energy and excitement, and our audiences are responding very favorably,” said Daniel Hart, BPO executive director. “He is a fantastic addition to the BPO team and we certainly want to keep him around. We are very happy he has agreed to this contract extension, which will maintain his presence with the Philharmonic through 2022.”

Russell is also the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops and the music director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra. After a season-long search, he was selected for the role of Principal Pops Conductor at the BPO in 2015, becoming the first person to hold the position since Marvin Hamlisch.

During his tenure in Buffalo, he has earned a reputation as a dynamic, charismatic conductor who presents high-quality programs. He has brought a special flair to the Holiday Pops concerts, earning him the moniker “Mr. Christmas” for his delight in the season and his deep knowledge of holiday music.

He led performances of the music of John Williams and Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert, has been instrumental in bringing in such artists as Cirque de la Symphonie and the New York Voices to Buffalo, and most recently, uncovered local talent in the “Buffalo Sings” contest and concert.

This season, his highlights include the Pops season opener “Happy Birthday Gershwin” on Sept. 22, the BPO debut of American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle in “The Soul of Motown” on Oct. 6, the American jazz band The Hot Sardines with their roaring ‘20s flair on Feb. 9, and the BPO’s traditional patriotic nod, An American Salute on May 24 and 25, in addition to four performances of Holiday Pops on Dec. 13-16.

“I’m thrilled to continue this beautiful relationship with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and all of Western New York,” Russell said. “I have loved my time here and the upswing in the region has been amazing to witness firsthand. The musicians, staff and Pops fans have been nothing but awesome; I look forward to keeping the party rolling.”

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