Consistently winning international praise for his extraordinary music-making and visionary leadership, John Morris Russell is in his third season as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He is the third conductor to hold the position, following in the footsteps of Doc Severinsen and Marvin Hamlisch. Russell began his tenure here with a series of highly successful Holidays Pops concerts with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, as well as concerts with jazz diva Dee Daniels and John Denver tribute artist Jim Curry. Last season, Mr. Russell and the BPO collaborated with the New York Voices, Midtown Men, and soprano Lisa Vroman as well as his popular Holiday concerts and John Williams Tribute. In the 2017/2018 season, he conducts the BPO in Disney Fantasia Live in Concert, Cirque de la Symphonie, A Night at the Oscars, Buffalo Sings featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, and Holiday Pops.
Maestro Russell is also conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, one of the world’s most iconic and beloved pops orchestras. The Cincinnati Pops’ recorded legacy continues under his leadership, including Home for the Holidays (2012), Superheroes! (2013), Carnival of the Animals (2014) and the first live recording of the Pops, American Originals (2015). In December 2014, he led the Cincinnati Pops on their first-ever Florida tour, and in March 2017 led the sixth Pops tour to Asia, including performances in Shanghai and Taiwan.
For the last six years, Russell has served as Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, and conductor of the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Under his leadership, the HHSO has enjoyed unprecedented artistic growth; concert attendance has blossomed and the orchestra has doubled the number of concerts they present.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Russell has worked with many of North America’s most distinguished ensembles. He frequently conducts Canadian orchestras, including Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Kitchener-Waterloo and Orchestra London. In the US, he has led the orchestras of Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Dallas, Louisville, Milwaukee, Miami’s New World Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Colorado Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, and New York City Ballet. Abroad, he conducted a concert at the Musikverein in Vienna that featured the Harlem Boychoir, the Vienna Choir Boys and actor Gregory Peck. The performance continues to be televised throughout Europe, Japan and in the USA on PBS.
Between 2001-2012 Maestro Russell served as Music Director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Windsor, Ontario. He was named Conductor Laureate of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in 2012.
Watch John Morris Russell's welcome message to Buffalo.