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GREENSBORO, NC--Russell James Peck, 64, noted composer, committed humanitarian and loving husband and father, departed this life Sunday, March 1, 2009.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14, at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3506 Lawndale Dr., Greensboro. Interment will follow in the St. Francis Memorial Garden.

Russell was born in Detroit, Michigan on Jan. 25, 1945 to the late Margaret and Tom Peck. He was an honors graduate of the University of Michigan, where he also received Master and Doctoral degrees in music composition. A very influential person in his musical life was his first composition teacher in early high school, Clark Eastham, who introduced him to the magnificence of the symphony orchestra and the inner workings of musical composition. Russell served as composer-in-residence with the city of Indianapolis where he met his wife, Cameron Gordon Peck, then a Butler University music student. They relocated to North Carolina in 1977.

His 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, and Milwaukee; Britain’s London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic; orchestral performances at Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center; and in Berlin, Warsaw, Barcelona, Kiev, Montreal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cairo, Caracas and other cities worldwide.

An Albany Records compact disk of four of Russell’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 a select group performed in Africa (Cairo Symphony).

In 2000-2001 a consortium of 39 American orchestras commissioned Russell’s Timpani Concerto Harmonic Rhythm. The premiere performances began with the Louisville Orchestra and proceeded with orchestras throughout the country.

Other well known works include a triple percussion concerto, The Glory and the Grandeur; Signs of Life 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, Korean and Cantonese.

For more than 30 years, Russell collaborated with his friend Marshall Gordon to create and implement a worldwide policy for eradicating starvation. As Russell recently wrote, “a starvation-free world is utterly imperative for any hope of world peace.” He believed that continued starvation results in ongoing structured conflict, which cripples efforts to improve global living conditions. Russell and Marshall first submitted a United Nations Starvation-Free World draft resolution during the Clinton administration, which states:

“Resolved, that the Member States of the United Nations will henceforth honor the principle that starvation-free conditions are always to be maintained in their respective national territories, and, in cooperation with the United Nations, for all the world’s peoples.” Although the George W. Bush administration indicated that the wording was acceptable to the United Nations, passage has not yet been achieved due to lack of a sponsoring nation.

Russell is survived by his wife of 37 years, Cameron Gordon Peck of Greensboro; daughter Eva Wreford and husband, Sebastian of Ann Arbor, Mich; grandchildren Dashiell and Lola Wreford; and sisters Jean Bobo and Joyce Larkin.

The family will receive friends at a gathering and visitation from 6 until 8 p.m. Friday, March 13, at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3506 Lawndale Dr., Greensboro.

The family extends heartfelt thanks to the entire community for its heroic efforts in searching for Russell and in comforting and supporting his family.

Russell’s commitment to kindness, the joy of music and a starvation-free world may be honored with gifts to the St. Francis Episcopal Church endowment fund or the humanitarian organization of your choice.

 

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