Richard Russell

Richard Russell portrait

A long-time disciple of world-renowned sarode master Ali Akbar Khan, Richard Russell spent many years studying the vocal and instrumental styles of Hindustani classical music. He is a prolific composer, performer, recording artist and teacher dedicated to the philosophy that sacred music has a unique potential to open the heart, uplift the soul and create peace and joy in our world. A respected performer and instructor of Indian classical music, he is also recognized as one of the early pioneers of World Fusion music.

Russell has performed with a number of world-class Indian musicians including Pankaj Mishra, Indradeep Ghosh, Salar Nader, Pranesh Khan, Shantilal Shah, Hom Nath Upadhyaya, Amarjeet Singh, Anil Prasad and Azhar Mehmood. His associations with stellar World Fusion musicians, both as a performer and recording artist, include Benjy Wertheimer, Nancy Rumbel, David Michael, Matthew Montfort, Andre Ferriante, Joel Dilley and rock and roll hall-of fame guitarist Roger Fisher.

His music career began at the piano and his interest in tone and color led him to an early study of electronic music synthesis. He began his composing work at an early point in his career and continues to pursue that with a passion. A pivotal change came in his senior year of college when he travelled to and lived in Nepal. There, he embarked on a lifelong study of Indian classical music. He began that journey by learning to play the sitar and also composing for and performing with his first east-west music ensemble composed of piano, tabla and Indian-style violin.

While earning his BA in music composition at the Evergreen State College he continued his focus on improvisational ensemble music. He attended The Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Calif., while simultaneously earning his MA from Antioch University with a concentration in Indian classical music.

Upon his return from Southeast Asia, he began a concentrated study with maestro Ali Akbar Khan, learning vocal and instrumental music for seven years in the traditional style of Guru/Shisya Parampara. He has studied sarode with Ustad Aashish Khan as well as harmonium with Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh. During this period he performed with the New Maihar Band, playing the compositions of Ali Akbar Khan, and also spent two years performing, touring and composing with the ground-breaking world music ensemble Ancient Future.