Robert Russell cannot remember a time when he did not sing. The Baptist tradition in Roanoke, Virginia during his formative years offered singing instruction in choirs for children as early as first grade; the teen choir sang once a week, every Sunday night, summers included! A full-time minister of music, supported by a part-time organist, led a rigorous program. Bob started piano lessons in second grade, and the combination of those lessons plus the numerous opportunities to perform in church as a singer, pianist and conductor laid the groundwork for a career as a musician.
At Wake Forest University Bob sampled music, math, and physics before choosing religion as a major. He conducted church choirs throughout his undergraduate years. At the University of North Carolina he studied with Dr. Lara Hoggard, an associate of Fred Waring and one of the pioneers in choral singing in America. From Dr. Hoggard he learned the choral art: the technique of forming volunteer singers into a cohesive and artistic unit. Further graduate study at the University of Colorado with Dr. Lynn Whitten in choral literature and performance and Dr. Barbara Doscher in vocal pedagogy prepared him for a career as a choral conductor and teacher of choral-vocal pedagogy. Dr. Russell is indebted to inspiring teachers throughout his career, including his post-graduate study with Robert Shaw, Helmut Rilling, and Elmer Iseler.