Cincinnati Pops conductor to speak at Hamilton’s Fitton Center

Grammy-nominated John Morris Russell to talk about his life and career

Conductor John Morris Russell of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra will be the Fitton Center’s special guest for the “Celebrating Self” luncheon series on Wednesday.

“The Celebrating Self Series, as we’ve seen it expand over the last couple of years, has really been about finding engaging, entertaining, insightful and exciting speakers to talk about what they do and what they are involved with, and having John Morris Russell is as an absolute coup for the Fitton Center. Obviously, he’s one of the most outstanding Pops conductors in the world,” said Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center.

Russell will talk about his life and career, and how he brings a musical season together.

“It’s not just about previewing seasons, it’s about hearing how these fantastic artists and performers have crafted their careers, the challenges they’ve had and overcome, both in terms of their artistry and musicality, and how they bring a season together,” MacKenzie-Thurley said.

Russell, a Cleveland native, is in his ninth season as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. The wide-range and diversity of his work as a conductor, collaborator and educator continues to energize the musical scene not only in Cincinnati, but across the globe. His contract with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was recently renewed through the 2022/2023 season.

His vision at The Cincinnati Pops has created the “American Originals Project,” which has garnered both critical and popular acclaim on two landmark recordings: “American Originals” (the music of Stephen Foster) and “American Originals: 1918” (a tribute to the beginnings of the jazz age).

With the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Russell leads sold-out performances at Music Hall, concerts throughout the region, as well as domestic and international tours — including Florida in 2014 and China/Taiwan in 2017. He returned to China in January 2019 to conduct concerts with the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra.

Russell has contributed six CDs to The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra’s recorded legacy, including “Voyage,” which was released in July 2019. The project debuted at No. 6 on Billboard’s Classical Crossover Charts.

As part of Celebrating Self, attendees will have a catered lunch, and will hear from Conductor Russell in an up-close and intimate setting. After his talk, there will be a time for a Q&A with guests.

Other upcoming guests for “Celebrating Self” in 2020 include Steve Timmer, director, Hamilton Parks Conservancy on Wednesday, Feb. 5; Candace McGraw, CEO of Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport on Wednesday, March 4; and Tisha Livingston, president of 80 Acres Farms on Wednesday, April 1.


What: "Celebrating Self" luncheon series featuring conductor John Morris Russell of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

When: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 11:30 a.m.

Where: Carruthers Signature Ballroom, The Fitton Center for Creative Arts, 101 S. Monument Ave., Hamilton

Cost: $18 for members; $23 for non-members. Tickets are available advance at the Fitton Center, or online. Limited tickets are offered at the door the day of the event, if available.

More info: or (513) 863-8873 ext. 110.

About the Author