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Russell Peck

Born: January 25, 1945

Died: March 1, 2009

Music became influential in Russell Peck’s life when he began learning how to write music (compose) with Clark Eastham in high school. Clark introduced him to the magnificent sounds and brilliant tone colors of the symphony orchestra and taught him the basic techniques of music composition. From here Peck would go on to the University of Michigan to earn a bachelor, master, and doctoral degree in music composition. Peck’s music showcases his accessible personal style and wide range of musical interests often combining classical music with popular American musical language including jazz.

Russell Peck's orchestral compositions have received thousands of performances by hundreds of orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. In 2000-2001 a group of 39 American orchestras - the largest in history - commissioned Mr. Peck's Timpani Concerto Harmonic Rhythm. The premiere performances began in September 2000 with the Louisville Orchestra and proceeded with orchestras throughout the country. Mr. Peck also performed extensively as narrator of his own orchestral works for young (and adult) audiences, and appeared as guest artist with orchestras throughout the United States.

Notable Works: Mr. Peck’s best known works include his percussion trio concerto, The Glory and the GrandeurSigns of Life for string orchestra; and The Thrill of the Orchestra, a narrated orchestral instrument demonstration.

Interesting Fact: For more than 30 years, Russell collaborated with his friend Marshall Gordon to create and implement a worldwide policy for eradicating starvation. As Russell 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. 

Thrill of the Orchestra:
The Thrill of the Orchestra is one of only a handful of works in the entire orchestral repertoire that was created specifically to introduce young audiences to the excitement of the symphony.  It colorfully illustrates the instruments and how they are played. The Thrill of the Orchestra has received hundreds of performances by dozens of orchestras throughout the United States and has also been released in a video production featuring the Royal Philharmonic of London. The work was originally commissioned by the Florida Symphony in 1985  and has since been translated into French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Korean and Cantonese..

Read about The Thrill of the Orchestra and listen to an excerpt here.