Renowned conductor to lead Hilton Head symphony

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) – John Morris Russell will service as principal guest conduct for the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra's 2011-2012 season, which begins in October.

The orchestra made the announcement Tuesday in a news conference at the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head.

"We are thrilled for this once in a lifetime opportunity to have a major international talent like Maestro Russell come to our community," said Edward Parrish, chairman of the orchestra board, in a statement. "When we learned of his interest in leading our orchestra we realized it would mark a major step forward for the presentation of great music in our community."

Russell was cited as one of North America's leaders in educational programming, directing the educational series "LinkUP!" at New York's Carnegie Hall for 12 years, a continuation of one made famous by Leonard Bernstein, according to HHSO.

Symphony fans may remember Russell because he was the assistant conductor for the Savannah Symphony during the 1990's.

"They were glorious years working for the Savannah Symphony. It's also where I met my wife, and where we got married as well, so this region is very special for myself, my wife, and our family," Russell told WTOC.

Mary Briggs, executive director for HHSO, said in a statement John has agreed to conduct four concerts during the upcoming season as well as the March 2012 International Piano Competition and the April 2012 "Symphony Under the Stars" - a total of six concerts.

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