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Russell Peck, composer

(1945 - 2009)


Russell Peck's orchestral compositions have received thousands of performances by hundreds of orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. These include the major American orchestras of Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Milwaukee, etc., Britain's London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic, and orchestral performances at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center, and in Berlin, Warsaw, Barcelona, Kiev, Montreal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cairo, Caracas, and other world cities.

An Albany Records compact disk of four of the composer's orchestral works (TROY 040) features recordings by the London Symphony. Other recordings are on Koch International and Channel Crossings (Netherlands). His Peace Overture was among the first serious contemporary American orchestral works played in the People's Republic of China (Shanghai Symphony), and one of the very few to be played in Africa (Cairo Symphony).

In 2000-2001 a consortium of 39 American orchestras commissioned Mr. Peck's Timpani Concerto Harmonic Rhythm. The premiere performances began with the Louisville Orchestra and proceeded with orchestras throughout the United States, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other best known works by Mr. Peck include his triple percussion concerto, The Glory and the Grandeur; Signs of Life II for string orchestra; and The Thrill of the Orchestra, a narrated orchestral instrument demonstration piece which was recorded for the Discovery series by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, and has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean and Cantonese.

Among his best known works for winds and percussion: Lift-Off percussion trio; Drastic Measures saxophone quartet; Cave for wind ensemble; The Glory and the Grandeur concerto for percussion trio and orchestra or wind symphony; The Upward Stream concerto for tenor saxophone and orchestra or symphonic band.

Mr. Peck also performed extensively as narrator of his own orchestral works for young (and adult) audiences, and appeared as guest artist with orchestras throughout the United States.

Russell Peck's music is licensed through ASCAP and is published by Pecktackular Music, E.B. Marks, Carl Fischer, Editions Jobert and others. Recordings of his music are available on Albany, Koch International, Channel Crossings, and C.R.I. labels.

Among the honors Mr. Peck received are the Koussevitsky Prize, two Ford Foundation Fellowships, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and several states' arts councils, ASCAP awards, and commissions from major symphony orchestras. Artist residencies included the Gaudeamus Contemporary Music Festival in the Netherlands and a two year appointment as composer-in-residence for the city of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Symphony. Mr. Peck also served on the faculty of Northern Illinois University, Eastman School of Music, and the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Russell Peck (born Detroit, Michigan USA, 1945; died Greensboro, North Carolina USA, 2009) was an honors graduate of the University of Michigan (1966), where he also received Master and Doctoral degrees in composition (1967 and 1972). His composition teachers included Clark Eastham, Leslie Bassett, Ross Lee Finney, Gunther Schuller, and George Rochberg - the latter two through Margaret Crofts Fellowships at Tanglewood Music Center.

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