Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Extends Contract
with Conductor John Morris Russell

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CINCINNATI, OH (April 26, 2022)— The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra has announced a two-year contract extension with conductor John Morris Russell effective through the end of the 2024-2025 season. The extension is the fourth for Russell, currently in his 11th season with the Cincinnati Pops.

“John is an ambassador for American music, which has become synonymous with the Cincinnati Pops brand,” said Jonathan Martin, President & CEO of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Cincinnati Pops. “His work as a conductor, educator, and collaborator continues to invigorate the Cincinnati music community, and his impact is evident through the audiences we welcome in Music Hall and his relationships with the musicians, teachers, and community partners throughout the region. We are grateful for John and his ongoing leadership of the Pops.”

“I am grateful to continue this beautiful partnership with the Cincinnati Pops, especially our shared devotion to the panoply of the American musical experience,” said Russell. “Our Orchestra has among the most committed and passionate musicians on the planet, and the palpable sense of joy we share can be heard in every virtuosic performance. Our ardent music lovers throughout Cincinnati and Pops fans around the world continue to be a source of inspiration, and I am deeply honored to continue this remarkable journey together.”

Since taking the helm as Pops Conductor in 2011, Russell’s tenure has been marked by diverse programming, community collaborations, and building a new recording legacy, including:

  • The American Originals Project which garnered both critical and popular acclaim in two landmark recordings: American Originals (the music of Stephen Foster) as well as American Originals: 1918 (a tribute to the dawn of the jazz age) which received a Grammy® nomination for “Best Classical Compendium”.

In 2020, the American Originals Project continued with King Records and the Cincinnati Sound with Late Night with David Letterman musical director, Paul Shaffer, celebrating the beginnings of bluegrass, country, rockabilly, soul and funk immortalized in recordings produced in the Queen City.

To date, six albums have been added to the recorded legacy of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra during John Morris Russell’s time, including Home for the Holidays (2012), the first recording on the Orchestra’s own Fanfare Cincinnati label; Superheroes! (2013); Carnival of the Animals (2014); American Originals (2015); American Originals: 1918 (2018); and Voyage (2019).

  • Critically acclaimed domestic and international tours, including Florida for holiday season performances in December 2014 and China and Taiwan in March 2017, contributing to the Pops storied touring history.
  • The American Soundscapes video series with CET Public Television which featured some of the greatest works in the Great American The series has surpassed one million views on YouTube since its inception in 2016.
  • The World Choir Games, the largest global choral festival and competition for amateur choirs from around the world. The Games in 2012, the first held in America, involved 15,000 active participants from 64 countries in peaceful singing Russell conducted the Orchestra in opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.
  • Lumenocity, which illuminated the façade of Music Hall and activated Washington Park in one of the most unique live concert experiences ever created with Russell conducted the Pops in performance with Music Hall resident companies from 2013-2016.
  • Classical Roots, a beloved annual Cincinnati tradition celebrating the African American musical experience. Russell was instrumental in the development of Classical Roots and nurtured long- lasting connections with community members from across the Cincinnati Classical Roots recently celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2021.
  • Neighborhood concerts in communities across the region, including Bond Hill, Forest Park, Mason, Green Township, and Hamilton County Parks.
  • The Educators Conducting Workshops with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Concert Orchestra to engage with and provide professional development for area band and orchestra directors. Russell also conducted the annual Side-by-Side concert with the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra a total of seven times during his tenure.

In addition to the Cincinnati Pops, Russell concurrently serves as the Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, leading the classical subscription series and the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and the Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. As a guest conductor, Russell has worked with many of the most distinguished orchestras in North America, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, and the orchestras of Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Upcoming appearances with John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Pops include:

JMR’s Greatest Hits on April 29-30 and May 1, 2022

Brady Block Parties

  • Westwood at Maple Ridge Lodge on June 19, 2022
  • Bond Hill at Corinthian Baptist Church on July 14, 2022
  • West End at Laurel Park on July 16, 2022
  • Evanston at Owl’s Nest Park on August 6, 2022

Red, White and BOOM! on July 4, 2022 at Riverbend Music Center

Hear Me Roar: A Celebration of Women in Song, featuring music of iconic divas of soul, pop, Broadway, R&B, jazz, opera, and gospel, on September 16-18, 2022

Get Happy: Judy Garland Centennial, featuring five-time Grammy®-nominated vocalist and pianist Michael Feinstein, on November 11-13, 2022

Holiday Pops with the Annie Moses Band on December 9-11, 2022