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BPO extends contract of principal pops conductor John Morris Russell

John Morris Russell's high-energy tenure as the principal pops conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is set to continue through 2022.

The BPO and Russell agreed to extend their contract for three more years after the initial agreement expires in August 2019.

"I'm thrilled to continue this beautiful relationship with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and all of Western New York," Russell said in a release. "I have loved my time here and the upswing in the region has been amazing to witness firsthand. The musicians, staff and Pops fans have been nothing but awesome; I look forward to keeping the party rolling!"

Russell was hired in 2015, becoming the first person to hold the BPO's principal pops conductor's baton since Marvin Hamlisch.

"John has infused our Pops series with a new level of energy and excitement, and our audiences are responding very favorably," BPO Executive Director Daniel Hart said in a release. "He is a fantastic addition to the BPO team and we certainly want to keep him around. We are very happy he has agreed to this contract extension, which will maintain his presence with the Philharmonic through 2022."

Russell is also the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops and the music director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.

The charismatic Russell has brought a special flair to the Holiday Pops concerts and has led performances of the music of John Williams and Disney’s Fantasia Live in Concert.

Russell will continue to conduct at least five Pops programs per season and will take the lead in planning Pops programming.

The coming season includes the Pops season opener "Happy Birthday Gershwin" on Sept. 22, the BPO debut of American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle in "The Soul of Motown" on Oct. 6, four Holiday Pops performances on Dec. 13 to 16, the American jazz band The Hot Sardines on Feb. 9, and An American Salute on May 24 and 25.

From the screen to the stage, the BPO’s new pops conductor can’t wait to get started

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