Before a concert that included "The Thrill of the Orchestra" a teacher contacted Russell with a question:
What instrument did you study as a child/young adult - or, barring that, what led you to become a composer in the first place?
I first studied piano in grade school because I wanted to be a composer. Hearing Beethoven's 5th Symphony made me feel like I was 10 feet tall and that people could be really great and inspiring. It was a whole new world and I wanted to be part of it.
Later in high school I studied trombone to play in the orchestra and band so I could be inside the music action - the greatest thrill of all!
Tell your students I'm proud they will be hearing my piece, and I hope it inspires them to be involved in music - and play an instrument.
All best wishes, Russell