New Cincinnati pops conductor to lead Akron Symphony March 17

The Akron Symphony will mark St. Patrick’s Day with a classical concert featuring guest conductor John Morris Russell and acclaimed teenage violinist Chad Hoopes. The concert occurs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 at on Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron.

Russell is the newly appointed music director of the Cincinnati Pops and former assistant conductor of the Akron Symphony and Hoopes has performed in concert halls throughout the world. The program will feature Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides Overture,” Mendelssohn’s “Violin Concerto,” and Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 6.”

Tickets range from $20 to $50 with 50 percent off all tickets for students, $5 off tickets for seniors and 25 percent off tickets for groups of 10 or more.

“It is a thrill to be returning to my roots, and make music with some of my very best friends in the Akron Symphony, said Russell. “It’s a homecoming of sorts for me.”

Born and raised in Cleveland, Russell began his professional conducting career as the assistant conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Akron Youth Orchestras. While with the Akron Symphony, he developed music education programs for area youth and spearheaded the Little Tikes concert series, which evolved into Concerts for Kids. Since then, he has gone on to work with many of North America’s most distinguished orchestras and ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra in Ontario.

Russell is widely considered one of North America’s leaders in orchestral educational programming, creating the Sound Discoveries series for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and leading the LinkUP! educational concert series at Carnegie Hall. Last year, he became the music director and conductor of the Cincinnati Pops, succeeding the late Eric Kunzel.

“As I look back at my own career that started with the Akron Symphony nearly a quarter-century ago, it brings me such joy to help launch a new career of the incredibly talented violinist, Chad Hoopes,” said Russell. “This will be one of those ‘I knew him when!’ moments for sure.”

Hoopes has appeared with numerous ensembles around the world since winning first prize at the Young Artists Division of the Yehudi Menuhin International Violin Competition. His exceptional talent and magnificent tone are acclaimed by critics worldwide. At age 16, he is a violinist possessing vibrant virtuosity “with an inspiring blend of emotional expression and technical ease” and his mastery is described as “way beyond his years,” according to the California-based Press Democrat newspaper.

“I think back to when I was a kid and saw all the great artists I looked up to perform the Mendelssohn violin concerto,” said Hoopes. “As I am growing into my own artistry and voice, I think about how I relate and express my feelings through one of the most famous violin concertos in the repertoire today. The last time I performed the piece, it was on Mendelssohn’s birthday. I look forward to throwing just as big a celebration for Mendelssohn in Akron.”

Hoopes first performed with the Akron Symphony in 2009 at the age of 14. “I am eager to return to the Akron Symphony, there are many familiar faces and friends that I look forward to sharing an exciting musical experience with again,” he said.

To purchase tickets, call the Akron Symphony office at 330-535-8131, visit, or call E.J. Thomas Hall at 330-972-7570.

© 2012 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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