School of Music

Robert Russell, biography continued

Bob came to Portland in 1979 as professor of music at the University of Southern Maine and music director of The Choral Art Society. He concluded a 36-year tenure at USM and in 2015 was named professor emeritus. His time in Portland has been rich, the highlights many. CAS has presented numerous concerts with orchestra, many under the auspices of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The first Messiah performance in 1982 stunned us all, as we filled City Hall Auditorium (Merrill’s predecessor) with patrons and glorious music. Other notable performances include Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Bach’s Passion according to St. John, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and the Brahms Requiem several times, including a riveting performance in 1991 with distinguished guest conductor Robert Shaw. Several collaborative concerts with Portland Ballet, including a dynamic Carmina Burana in 2003, as well as concerts with Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, USM Wind Ensemble, Musica de Filia and many other regional organization stand out.

His work as music educator—at USM, as guest musician for festival choruses, and as clinician with individual high school choruses—has been deeply satisfying. He has conducted more than 75 festival choruses, including All-State choruses in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. He led the USM Chamber Singers on six European tours, and the sights and sounds of those tours will remain indelibly etched in his memory. There is nothing quite to compare with the sounds of a well-tuned a cappella ensemble, singing for 10 days in glorious acoustics.

In retirement he will reside in Portland, living and traveling with Linda, a pianist and author of numerous program notes for his choral concerts. He will continue as music director The Choral Art Society and welcomes invitations to work with your choir.

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