WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
Are you a soloist or chamber ensemble looking for exciting, audience-friendly new repertoire?
Is there great repertoire for other ensembles you would love to play, if only it could be arranged for your group?
Are you an artist in another medium looking for a musical collaborator?
Are you an individual looking to commission a piece of music for a specific occasion?
If so, I may be the composer / arranger for you!
I greatly enjoy writing and arranging music for all sorts of occasions. While I am always happy to write for traditional concert settings, I especially enjoy the stimulation and challenge of creating bespoke compositions and arrangements for specific, unique situations. There is nothing more gratifying than working directly with an individual or group to create music that fits their particular needs and desires.
I’ve been commissioned numerous times to create music for a huge variety of situations and ensembles, from solos and chamber ensembles to large orchestral works. I pride myself on consistently creating high quality, fresh, memorable music, while being reliable, communicative, open to feedback, and responsive to the needs and desires of my clients and collaborators.
In addition to traditional concert works, I’ve composed music for performance competitions, to accompany street art, stained glass, wood-carving, dance, and film, and for specific occasions like weddings, memorial services, church services, building dedications, and tributes.
I’ve also made many arrangements of pre-existing works, ranging from a Hamilton song for bass clarinet duet, to huge orchestral works pared down for woodwind quintet, to re-working my own compositions for vastly different ensembles. I pride myself on being able to creatively and effectively re-imagine works for even the most extreme changes in instrumentation.
I enjoy the challenge of understanding and meeting a client’s specific needs, creating music that is just the right fit for the occasion and circumstances.
My work is quite wide-ranging and eclectic. I encourage you to browse my compositions and arrangements, or CONTACT ME and I can direct you to specific examples of my work that are most relevant to your interests.
My rates depend on the scope and nature of the project. Please CONTACT ME to let me know what sort of project you are interested in and we can discuss the possibilities.
Below you can read testimonials from commissioners and collaborators on a range of different projects.
“Over the past 12 years Jon has served as the composer and musical director for seven evening-length productions by our San Francisco dance company. As a key member of our creative team, Jon participates intimately in the design and realization of our projects. In our most recent collaboration, ‘Hunting Gathering,’ he created beautifully haunting and viscerally compelling compositions that deftly captured the emotion and physicality of the choreography. His capacity to engage in complex and fast-paced problem solving is unparalleled. He is a wonderful communicator who produces consistently high-quality work while being open to feedback and always maintaining perspective and a great sense of humor. Our work has been deeply enriched by Jon’s extraordinary artistry.”
– Janice Garrett, Co-Artistic Director, Garrett + Moulton Productions
“We absolutely loved working with Jon on a commission for a new work inspired by the stained glass art of Judith Schaechter. Our ensemble premiered ‘Procession and Burlesque’ at the opening weekend of Ms. Schaechter’s career retrospective exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester in early 2020. Jon’s piece perfectly captures the multi-layered brilliance of Ms. Schaechter’s work – between a slow, moody and dark procession to a carnival-infused-klezmer-bash, Procession and Burlesque is a perfect match for Ms. Schaechter’s art. Gorgeously written for our ensemble, all of the fivebyfive musicians love this piece, and Judith Schaechter herself was totally blown away by how much Jon’s piece embodied the spirit of her work. Jon is a fabulous collaborator, and we can’t wait to have another piece for fivebyfive in the future!”
– Laura Lentz, artistic director and flutist for fivebyfive
“Imani Winds had the pleasure of commissioning Jon for two major orchestral arrangements which were Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. Reducing these massive works for wind quintet is no small job to say the least. Working with Jon was amazing! He has such a great knowledge of the wind instruments so figuring out what would translate well from strings and percussion (for instance) to a flute or bassoon, was a very natural process. His arrangements feel like something fresh and brand new, although they are well rooted pieces in the classical canon. Jon can create something specifically catered to what your needs or desires are as an ensemble. Our working relationship was always one of collaboration and openness. The ultimate product was not only exactly what we needed but was very detailed oriented and absolutely of the highest quality. Jon’s arrangements are vital works of Imani Winds’ standard repertoire.”
– Monica Ellis, Bassoonist, Imani Winds
“Jon is one of those rare composers that thrives creatively regardless of the sometimes-daunting logistics involved in the commissioning process. Our earliest collaborations involved adaptations of Jon’s music for the Eastman Saxophone Project, and a newly commissioned double-concerto, which we premiered with Mark Scatterday and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Throughout the entire process, Jon exceeded expectations. He was responsive, flexible, met crucial deadlines, and was simply a joy to host in rehearsal settings. He is truly invested in the artists he works with, and in tailoring his approach to create the best possible results for each situation. In our most recent project, Jon was commissioned to write a series of etudes that focus on teaching the concept of ‘groove’. These Groovetudes served as the foundation for an international saxophone competition and Jon navigated the demanding nature of this commission with ease. Even with hundreds of musicians involved across the world, I was always confident Jon would deliver high-quality work in a timely manner. The actual results blew me away, and his promptness allowed our organization to function efficiently during a complex series of international events. Jon’s music appeals across cultural boundaries and inspires joy in performers and audiences alike. He is a wonderful collaborator and I constantly look forward to our future projects.”
– Jonathan Wintringham, Executive Director, International Saxophone Academy; Conn-Selmer Artist
“After a recent collaboration with the Friction Quartet in San Francisco, I was inspired to ask Jon to write a piece for string quartet with bass clarinet in Spring, 2017. Given his virtuosic skill on the bass clarinet and my familiarity with his previous compositions, this turned out to be a perfect fit. I am the proud sponsor of a lovely five movement quintet based on a programmatic theme: ‘On Sorrow.’ The piece is emotional, both sad and inspiring. Jon completed the work in the time promised for the agreed upon fee, and provided me with beautifully engraved scores and parts. I am proud that this work is now part of the bass clarinet quintet repertoire and hope that it receives many performances in the years to come. Thank you Jon!”
– Bruce Belton
“In the fall of 2018, my husband and I had the idea to hold a house concert to honor David Esterly and to celebrate his exquisite wood carving ‘Musical Trophy’. The carving includes a violin, a clarinet, a cymbal, and a baroque trumpet with two musical scores: Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Purcell’s Violin Sonata in B flat. In planning the concert, it seemed logical to include a movement of the Mozart clarinet quintet as well as the Purcell violin sonata, depicted in the carving. Not so obvious was how to include the cymbal and the baroque trumpet. Thanks to an introduction by a mutual friend, I contacted Jonathan Russell. I asked him if he would be willing to write a fanfare using all the instruments in the carving. He came to see the carving and read David Esterly’s wonderful memoir ‘The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making.’ Anyone who admires the creative process is moved by the dedication of David Esterly and Jonathan was no exception. He corresponded with David directly, thus closing the circle. His work ‘Fragile Fanfares’ was performed on February 3, 2019 in our home. David, his family, and many of his friends and admirers attended its stirring premiere. It was a unique and deeply satisfying experience for all in attendance. We treasure the score which Jonathan presented to us and to the Esterlys. I would highly recommend to anyone who has a special occasion that they consider commissioning a work from Jonathan Russell. He is a brilliant composer and wonderful new friend.”
– Beatrice Broadwater