Meet The Conductor: Russell Ger, Concert Conductor
Updated: Jan 19, 2018
Russell Ger, the Conductor for NYS's Concert Orchestra, is also the Music Director for the Greater Newbugh Symphony Orchestra in upstate New York, as well as the Music Director and Conductor for Park East Synagogue in Manhattan. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Maestro Ger now lives in New York City with his wife Kirsten, and new baby Caleb.
We spoke with Maestro Ger about his background and how he became a conductor.
How long have you been with NYS?
I have been with NYS since September 2015.
When did you start playing music?
I began playing the piano around age 7 and the euphonium around age 8. I was asked to move to tuba by my music director and was then placed in the high school orchestra when I was still in grade 5. I later taught myself trumpet just for fun and played in a jazz band for a bit.
Russell with his Mum at the piano.
Did you have a music teacher that stood out and had an influence on you?
Dr. Dale Lonis was my first conducting teacher when I was 17 years old. I did a two week intensive summer course with him for three years in a row. He was an incredible teacher; kind, warm, encouraging, and a brilliant pedagogue. He helped to forge my musical aesthetic, and much of how I work today - especially with young people - is based on his approach.
Did you always want to be a conductor/music educator?
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a film composer but I decided that composing was a lonely business, seeing as its done in isolation. Around that time, I was invited to do a conducting course and it changed the course of my life. From that time on I wanted to be a Conductor.
If you weren't a conductor, what career would you want to try?
I think I would be an actor, a chef, or a psychologist. All three evince different aspects of creativity that are shared with conducting.
PHOTO ABOVE: Playing the tuba in high school at music camp.
Russell at the piano with the producer of a recording he made in high school as a fundraiser. He composed and performed several songs on the album.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people don't know.
I’m actually quite shy. I’m a very outgoing introvert.
Could you share a favorite NYS memory?
I can’t pick one in particular because I always look forward to my rehearsals with Concert Orchestra. But I remember very fondly that after my first year, during the summer, I turned to my wife and remarked how much I missed my NYS kids!
ABOVE : Onstage in Toronto with Itzhak Perlman. BELOW : Dress rehearsal in Miami.
What advice would you give to NYS students or to a student who would like to audition for NYS?
Play musically. Lots of people can play notes accurately, very few people can play in a way that makes you feel something.