Principal Conductor

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Fabian Russell

Fabian Russell was born in Sydney, Australia in 1968. In a career spanning three decades he has been at the forefront of the Australian classical music industry as a conductor, artistic director, orchestral musician, soloist and educator. Having spent many years as a musician with some of Australia’s major orchestras, Fabian took the decision to become a professional conductor following the rapid growth and artistic success of The Orchestra Project – a national training orchestra that he created during his time as a member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Fabian has received invitations to conduct the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Victorian Opera, Australian Youth Orchestra, Australian National Academy of Music, Orchestra Victoria, Sydney Symphony Orchestra Sinfonia, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Niedersächsisches Jugensinfonieorchester, Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Symphony Orchestra, Monash Academy Orchestra, Queensland Youth Orchestra, Sydney Youth Orchestra, Darwin Symphony Orchestra, University of Tasmanian Conservatorium Orchestra, Australian International Summer Orchestral Institute and Monash Academy Orchestra. He has collaborated with leading international soloists including legendary American pianist Gary Graffman, Brett Dean, Richard Tognetti, Lin Jiang, Michael Kieran Harvey and Kristian Winther. He is currently Associate Conductor of the Australian Youth Orchestra, Guest Conductor Victorian Opera and until recently was Principal Conductor of the Monash University Academy Orchestra, Principal Conductor of the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Head of Orchestral Studies at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

In 2013 Fabian made his Victorian Opera debut in a new production of John Adams’ Nixon in China that received considerable critical acclaim and resulted in the Green Room Award for Outstanding Conductor as well as the Helpmann Award nomination for Best Music Director. Described in The Age as “nothing short of a triumph, Fabian Russell’s direction of Orchestra Victoria shows up the clarity and dynamism of Adams’ extraordinary score, but also its inner beauty and moments of reflective stillness, especially in the elegiac final act.” And in The Australian “Musical polymath Fabian Russell conducts Nixon in China with energy and finesse drawing a powerful performance from Orchestra Victoria and an excellent cast of nine principals and chorus of twenty four.”

Fabian has enjoyed a long relationship with the internationally acclaimed Australian Youth Orchestra as Associate Conductor where he has been engaged to prepare AYO in 24 seasons since 2002, including three international tours, for various Guest Conductors including Lawrence Foster, Diego Masson, Benjamin Zander, Alexander Anissimov, Rossen Milanov, Alexander Shelley, John Nelson, Thomas Dausgaard, Simone Young, Manfred Honneck, Christoph Eschenbach and soloist Joshua Bell. In 2013 he was a Conductor in Residence at the AYO National Music Camp in Adelaide.
In 2002 Fabian founded The Orchestra Project – the Melbourne based training orchestra comprised of Australia’s finest young musicians. The Project received significant support from the MSO and the ANAM in its initial years and now functions independently as a professional training ensemble. Fabian has been Artistic Director and Conductor of the Project since its inception. He has also served as Assistant Conductor to various guests including MSO Chief Conductors Markus Stenz and Oleg Caetani.

In 2008 Fabian was invited to be Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Youth Orchestra and was subsequently appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director. Under his stewardship MYO grew to become what was considered to be one of Australia’s leading pre-professional orchestral training programs, providing rare opportunities for young orchestral musicians to perform works such as John Adams Harmonielehre, Olivier Messiaen Turangalila Symphonie, Mahler Symphony No. 5 and most of the major ballet works of Stravinsky and Ravel.

At the age of nineteen Fabian accepted a contract position as Guest Principal Tuba of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra where he remained for three years. Following this he was appointed to a Principal position with Orchestra Victoria. In 1993 he was appointed to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra where he remained for fourteen years until the end of the 2006 season. He has played under many of the world’s finest conductors including Sir Georg Solti, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Neeme Jarvi, Edo de Waart and Yuri Temikarnov. He has also performed with some of the world’s great soloists including Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Lang Lang, Yuri Bashmet, Mischa Maisky, Barry Tuckwell and Hakan Hardenberger. He participated in seven major international tours with the Sydney Symphony and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performing in many of the major concert halls throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He has also toured throughout Japan with Orchestra Ensemble Kanizawa. In addition to his orchestral posts Fabian performed as soloist with numerous Australian orchestras, including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as a finalist in the 1997 Symphony Australia Young Performer Awards, the Melbourne Symphony and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. During the course of these two decades he established an international reputation as a leading brass musician of his generation. (Photo credit : Lucien Fischer)