Rehearsal Area- Minsky Hall, 1944 Hall
University of Southern Maine, EmeritusDr. 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.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.
Brunswick High School
Zadok, the Priest (Coronation Anthem No. 1)………..George Frideric Handel
Guiding Light……………………………………………………..Matthew LaBerge
Unclouded Day…………………………………………………..arr. Shawn Kirchner
A Psalm of Life……………………………………………………Colin Britt
Please ask your school music teacher for your part assignments
Your Commissioned Work & Composer
Colin Britt grew up in Lewiston-Auburn, where he attended Edward Little High School (class of 2003). He holds a bachelor’s degree in music composition from the Hartt School, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the Yale School of Music, and a doctorate in choral conducting from Rutgers University. He has conducted the Rutgers University Choir, the Hartford Chorale Chamber Singers, and the Hartt Choir and Camerata, and has sung and conducted with C4 (The Choral Composer-Conductor Collective).
His compositions have been performed by ensembles at Rutgers, Westminster Choir College, Hartt, Yale, and Seraphic Fire, the Yale Schola Cantorum, the Yale Alumni Chorus, C4, VOCE, and the Riverside Choral Society, and by ensembles across the country and on four continents. His works are published by Alliance Music, Edition Peters, and GIA.
He currently serves as music director for Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City, and directs Amuse and the West Village Chorale in New York. In Fall 2016, he served on the conducting faculty at SUNY New Paltz, and he was recently appointed Choir Director at Rutgers Preparatory School.
About A Psalm of Life:
When searching for a poem to set for this piece, it quickly became apparent to me that the text should be by a Maine writer. One of the more well-known poets to come out of Maine is Longfellow, and when sifting through his poetry, “A Psalm of Life (What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist)” kept springing off the page. Though the title implies otherwise, the text is not in any way religious, except for one mention of “God o’erhead.” I think the words have universal appeal, both for young musicians and students, and for all of us facing something of an uncertain future in these complicated times. Known that Dr. Russell was looking for a work to close the program, I set these hopeful words in a rising motif, using a continually rising figure in the accompaniment to represent the hope and optimism that the words demand from us.