Thomas Joiner, conductor
Seth Russell, cello
Gabriel Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande suite for orchestra
Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring
Mark O’Connor: Appalachia Waltz
When you hear Gabriel Fauré’s haunting Élégie as performed by Principal Cello Seth Russell, you will feel something. We don’t presume to tell you what, but sensitive artistry is required, and Seth has it in spades. The last movement from the Pelléas et Mélisande suite was played at the composer’s own funeral is beautiful enough to make the rest of us cry too.
Speaking of feelings, your patriotism will surge as you hear the sweeping sounds of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. How could one person so perfectly encapsulate what America sounds like? The richness and pain and expansiveness and playfulness you hear in this piece composed for chamber orchestra in 1944 is Copland’s calling card. Fiddler Mark O’Connor and Bassist Edgar Meyer collaborated to create Appalachia Waltz in 1993 as a poignant expression of longing for home.
This concert experience might remind you of what it feels like to be on the top of a mountain watching the sunrise.
Thomas Joiner, Conductor
Thomas Joiner has appeared as a conductor, violinist, chamber player, and teacher throughout the United States and eleven foreign countries. As Professor Emeritus of Violin and Orchestral Activities at Furman University, he conducted the Furman Symphony Orchestra in orchestral, operatic, and oratorio performances. As Music Director of the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra for 21 years, Joiner’s creative programming led to growth, community support, sold-out performances, and annual curriculum-based concerts for 3rd and 6th graders.
As a guest conductor, Joiner led the Orquestra da Camera Theatre Sao Pedro during two residencies in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the Greenville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, the Asheville Lyric Opera, the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Masterworks Music Festival, and All-State Orchestras in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.
As an orchestral violinist Joiner has shared the stage with conductors Robert Shaw, Jorge Mester, John Nelson, and Keith Lockhart and soloists Renee Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Peter Serkin, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham and Joshua Bell. As an Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency, he presented seventeen violin recitals with pianist Douglas Weeks during a five-week tour of western Africa and the Middle East. During a sabbatical Joiner studied in Paris with eminent maestro John Nelson. He has twice served as visiting professor at the Academia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy.
For many years Joiner held the Dr. & Mrs. William J. Pendergrast, Sr. Artist Chair at the Brevard Music Festival where he served on the conducting staff and as a concertmaster of the Festival Orchestra. He was honored with his wife, violist Anna Barbrey Joiner, with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Previous positions include Professor of Violin and Orchestral Activities at the University of Georgia School of Music, Associate Principal Second Violin of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, first violinist with the Louisville Orchestra, SC president of the American String Teachers Association, and a national board member of the Conductors Guild.
Joiner earned the DMA in Violin Performance from Florida State University, the MM in Church Music and Musicology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the BM in Violin Performance from Furman University. He is a native of Rock Hill, SC where he was drum major of the Rock Hill High School Bearcat Band!
Guest Artist: Seth Russell, Cellist
Dr. Seth Russell performs internationally as a chamber musician, soloist, and orchestral player. Audiences have praised his technical wizardry, adventurous programming, and inspiring musicianship. He has performed solo and chamber music recitals in venues such as Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Eastman’s Kodak Hall, and Taipei’s Elite Performance Hall. In 2017 and 2019 he was awarded a top prize in the New York International Artists Competition. He is currently in his second season as Principal Cellist of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina.
Seth is passionate about creating new ways to connect with audiences. He recently formed the Parrish Cello Trio with cellists Jamie Clark and Kenny Lee in Spring of 2022. In October 2022 the trio had their inaugural residency in Greenville, SC. The trio led a masterclass with local students and performed a featured concert of diverse genres and arrangements at the Fine Arts Center. In 2014, Seth formed the Oceanus Quartet with colleagues in Boston, which received a New England Conservatory Entrepreneurial grant for a tour of Taiwan in May-June, 2015. The quartet performed and coached students at universities, schools, and concert halls throughout Taiwan. Seth was also a founding member of Phoenix, an innovative chamber orchestra in Boston that creates unique concert experiences through programming, venue, and audience engagement. Now in its ninth season, Phoenix has won the Improper Bostonian’s “Boston’s Best Classical Ensemble,” and was reviewed by the Boston Globe as “eminently worthy of your attention.”
Dedicated to pedagogy and music education, Seth has worked with students of diverse levels and backgrounds. In 2015-16 he served as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Cello and cellist of the Ceruti Quartet at University of Memphis in Tennessee. His private students have been accepted into the “Rising Stars” Piccolo Spoleto Festival, the University of North Dakota, and Oberlin Conservatory. He has served on the faculty of several summer music festivals, including the Longhorn Music Camp, Furman Orchestra Camp, and MasterWorks Festival.
Seth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cello Performance and a Performer’s Certificate from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with David Ying. He received a Master’s degree in Cello Performance from New England Conservatory where he studied with Paul Katz. He studied with Bion Tsang at the University of Texas at Austin where he received his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in 2019. His Doctorate research document, “House Concerts: Classical Music at the Heart of Community,” highlights the crucial role of house concerts in the history of classical music as well as the modern music scene. Seth has also studied with Lluis Claret, Gary Hoffman, Ralph Kirshbaum, and Pieter Wispelwey, and worked with the Ying, Borromeo, Brentano, Shanghai, and Miro Quartets. Seth and his wife Chelsea are natives of Greenville, SC.