Mark Russell Smith
As a guest conductor, Smith enjoys a burgeoning international reputation that has already brought him engagements and re-engagements with prestigious American orchestras, including the St. Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. With the Minnesota Orchestra, he made his critically acclaimed Sommerfest debut in 2006 and made his subscription series debut in March of 2009. He will debut with the Virginia Opera in the fall of 2013, leading a new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. In November 2007, he returned to his alma mater to lead the Symphony Orchestra of The Curtis Institute of Music in Verizon Hall, and led the orchestra on tour in China and Korea in the fall of 2011. Smith’s debut at the Nomus Music Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, was met with critical and audience acclaim and led to immediate reengagement. Other recent and upcoming appearances include the Minnesota Orchestra, Santa Barbara Symphony, Brazil’s Orquestra Sinfôniea da USP, the Hartford Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa, the Phoenix Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the Eugene Symphony, the Curtis Opera Theatre, the Jacksonville Symphony, the Berkshire Choral Festival, the Eastern Music Festival, the Tulsa Philharmonic, Orchestra London (Ontario), and the European Center for Opera and Vocal Art in Ghent, Belgium.
A champion of the music of our time, Smith led the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Engine 408 series, working closely with living composers and added his unique perspective to enhance that orchestra’s great tradition of fostering new works. He has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and members of the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota in Hún Qiáo (Bridge of Souls), a concert of remembrance and reconciliation featuring world premieres by Korean, Japanese, Chinese and American composers. A firm believer in the use of technical innovation to reach world-wide audiences, he debuted in 2002 with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conducting the final round of the first Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition, where he led six concerto performances that were streamed live over the Internet. He has led the Minnesota Orchestra in the Competition’s final round since 2004 and returns each summer.
Smith grew up in a musical family in Phoenix, Arizona, where he began the serious study of conducting while still in his teens. He is a graduate in cello performance of the Juilliard School, where he studied with Claus Adam, and of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Max Rudolf and Otto-Werner Mueller. While at Curtis, Smith was first prize winner in the National Repertory Orchestra Conductors Competition, and upon graduation, was named Assistant Conductor of the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Singers. From 1989 to 1994, Smith served as Associate Conductor of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and from 1992 through 1999 served as Music Director of the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra. His dynamic personality, creative programming, and focus on outreach helped revitalize the Springfield (MA) Symphony, where he served as Music Director from 1995 through 2000.
Smith resides in Minneapolis, where his wife, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, is a horn player with the Minnesota Orchestra. They have two sons, Alexander and Noah. More at markrussellsmith.net.