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John Morris Russell
Cincinnati Pops Conductor

John Morris Russell, Cincinnati Pops Conductor, Louise Dieterle Nippert & Louis Nippert Chair

A master of American musical style, Grammy-nominated conductor John Morris Russell, A.K.A. "JMR," has devoted himself to redefining the American orchestral experience. In his eleventh year as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the wide-range and diversity of his work as a conductor, collaborator and educator continues to reinvigorate the musical scene throughout Cincinnati and across the continent. As Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, Russell leads the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and he also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. As a guest conductor, he has worked with many of the most distinguished orchestras in North America, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony, and the orchestras of Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.

With the Cincinnati Pops, Russell leads sold-out performances at Music Hall, concerts throughout the region, as well as domestic and international tours—including Florida in 2014 and China/Taiwan in 2017. His visionary leadership at the Pops created the “American Originals Project,” which has garnered both critical and popular acclaim in two landmark recordings: American Originals (the music of Stephen Foster) as well as American Originals: 1918. 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. Russell’s other recordings with The Pops include Home for the Holidays, Superheroes, Carnival of the Animals, and Voyage. Russell’s recent collaborations with artists around the world include Aretha Franklin, Emanuel Ax, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Common, Garrick Ohlsson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jon Kimura Parker, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michael McDonald, Cho-Liang Lin, Sutton Foster, George Takei, Megan Hilty, Ranky Tanky, Steve Martin, Katharine McPhee, Brian Wilson, Cynthia Erivo, and Leslie Odom, Jr.

Photo Credit: Roger Mastroianni