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James Peck, 64, noted composer, committed humanitarian and loving husband
and father, departed this life Sunday, March 1, 2009.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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:
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.
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.