2013 Spring Newsletter

Faculty Activities and Service Awardees

Craig Russell

The year 2012 and early months of 2013 were fruitful for Professor Craig Russell. On Jan. 7, 2012, he presented a concert titled “Transatlantic Landscapes” of all-original compositions performed by various Cal Poly faculty and local luminaries, including Inga Swearingen, voice (2002 music graduate); Barbara Hoff, piano; Paul Severtson and Brynn Albanese, violin; David Hennessee, viola; Jeanne Shumway, cello; and Clifton Swanson, bass. Most of the works were world premieres, including the song “Please Stop the Car,” the moderato movement from his string quartet, and the piano suite “Twisted River.” Feb. 4 saw a performance of Russell’s completion of Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 5, a work that was only 40-percent complete at the time of Mozart’s death. Soloist Richard Todd and the San Luis Obispo Symphony, under the baton of Michael Nowak, premiered the work. In March, Russell was invited to work with the Central Coast Children’s Choir at its retreat at Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria. In April the choir and orchestra at UC Berkeley (under the baton of Matt Oltman and with Russell playing baroque guitar) premiered Russell’s reconstruction of Ignacio de Jerusalem’s Mass in F. The piece had been a staple in the Mexico City Cathedral in the mid-1700s and eventually found its way to California. More of Russell’s research came to light in May and June when he went on tour with the San Francisco-based choir Chanticleer, with whom he has worked on numerous tours and recording projects. This particular endeavor was called “Mission Road II” and featured works by Mexican Baroque composer Antonio de Salazar and California mission gems from the era. Russell spent the latter part of June in one of his favorite cities, Barcelona, where he has been teaching with regularity at their Barcelona Festival of Song. He was elected a corresponding member to the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Cataluña, “Saint George”). This distinction is rarely awarded to someone not native to that region of Spain.

In July he was in Germany and attended the Mainz Music Festival, where Nicolai Spiess conducted the European premiere of Russell’s “Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra” with the young horn soloist Christian Illgner playing the difficult solo part. In August Russell served as one of the producers for the San Luis Symphony’s recording sessions of José María Gallardo del Rey’s new masterpiece, “Glosas,” a double-concerto for guitar, violin and orchestra. The CD is ready for release.

Russell has been active with his rock and roll research as well. At the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology and American Musicological Society (held in New Orleans in late October and early November) he presented a paper titled “Seeds, Rats, Barbs, and Panthers: SDS, Weatherman, and the Radical Re-Contextualization of Beatles’ Songs,” in which he examined the highly specific links connecting the Fab Four with the American underground press. He also chaired a session titled “Musical Migrations,” dealing with colonial music across the globe. Russell continued on the convention circuit in mid-November, when he traveled to San Diego for the annual meeting of the College Music Society, where he presented “Christopher Robin, the Rat, and the Rabbi: Literary Origins of ’60s Psychedelia and Folk-Rock.”

The year 2013 began with the San Luis Obispo Symphony taking a tour of the California missions in January (San Miguel, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara). Its repertoire featured Russell’s violin concerto “Ecos armónicos” alongside Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” KCET-TV in Los Angeles made a documentary film about his activities that centered on the California missions. The following Web pages provide a glimpse of these mission concerts and also a video link to the film that was released as part of KCET’s arts program, “Artbound.” Simply submit a search for Craig Russell.


Service Awardees for 2013

On February 27, the following were recognized by Cal Poly for their years of service:

  • Craig Russell
    • 30 years
  • Benjamin Reveley (staff)
    • 15 years
  • Katherine Arthur
    • 10 years