Dr. Russel C. Mikkelson is in his eighteenth year as Director of University Bands, Professor of Music (Conducting) and Area Head of Conducting and Ensembles at The Ohio State University, where he conducts the Wind Symphony, chairs the graduate conducting program, and oversees all aspects of the university’s band program. Under his direction, the OSU Wind Symphony has performed at the 2003 and 2015 College Band Directors National Association Conventions, the 2014 CBDNA North Central Conference, the 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2013 Ohio Music Educators Association Conventions, and has recorded six CD’s: Network (Naxos 2016), Rest (Naxos 2012), Southern Harmony (Naxos 2009), Winds of Nagual (Naxos, 2007), Jubilare! (Mark Records, 2003) and Sounds, Shapes and Symbols (Mark Records, 2000). In a 2010 review of the Southern Harmony recording, Fanfare magazine proclaims “The Ohio State musicians play their collective hearts out and conductor Mikkelson shapes the music with a loving hand, wringing every last drop of emotion out of the music. If this does not give you goose-bumps, nothing will.
A staunch advocate for the creation of new works, Mikkelson chairs the Big Ten Conference’s Commissioning Project, serves on the American Bandmasters Association Commissioning Committee, the New Works Committee for the College Band Directors National Association, and has instituted a program of regular commissioning projects for the Ohio State Bands. He has received praise from composers Leslie Bassett, Krzysztof Penderecki, John Corigliano, Michael Colgrass, Joseph Schwantner, Aaron Jay Kernis, Jennifer Higdon, Gunther Schuller, Lukas Foss, Augusta Read Thomas, Frank Ticheli, John Mackey, Steven Bryant, and Michael Daugherty among others, for his musical realization of their compositions. Corigliano wrote, “Russel Mikkelson is a conductor who really understands my music, and that’s rare.”
Dr. Mikkelson is Past President of the Big Ten Band Directors Association, Vice President of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), a member of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), NAfME, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Beta Mu, and an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association. An enthusiastic advocate of public school music education, Dr. Mikkelson has conducted All-State Bands, Festivals, and Honor Bands across the United States and internationally. Additionally, he serves as Music Director and Conductor of the Heisey Wind Ensemble, a highly skilled community band based in Newark, Ohio. He is the recipient of both the Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award (2015), and the Distinguished Scholar Award (2005). He has published articles in The Instrumentalist and The Journal of the Conductor’s Guild, and as a composer/arranger, he is published through C. Alan and Daehn Publications.
Along with being a renowned conductor, Dr. Mikkelson is also an outstanding musician having often been featured as a trumpet soloist.
Conductor Laureate of the HWE
Richard Blatti serves as the Conductor Laureate of the HWE. He served as Principal Conductor of the group from 1996-2002. It was under his direction that the ensemble made their first appearance at the Ohio Music Education Association State Conference.
Professor Blatti currently serves The Ohio State University as Head of the Ensembles and Conducting Area, Associate Professor of Conducting, and Associate Director of Bands. In addition to his duties as music director and conductor of the OSU Symphonic Band, he supervises all aspects of the conducting curricula and the administration of all university ensembles for the School of Music. Ensembles under his direction have recorded for the Naxos, Delos International, Boosey & Hawkes, and Mark Recording labels and have performed at national and regional levels for the College Band Directors National Association, the American Bandmasters Association and the Ohio Music Educators Association. For his interpretation of their works, Blatti has earned the praise of many composers, including Gunther Schuller, John Mackey, Steven Bryant, David Gillingham, Frank Ticheli, Daniel Bukvich, Roger Cichy, and Warren Benson. Professor Blatti has twice received The Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2007, was one of only ten OSU Faculty honored with the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.
As guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator, Blatti has been invited to 36 states, five Canadian provinces, and six other countries, including the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, Australia, and China. Prior to his appointment at OSU, Professor Blatti was Director of Instrumental Music at Albion College in Michigan. During his tenure there he was twice selected the outstanding Faculty Member of the Year, and was awarded two grants in support of his research on rehearsal techniques and conducting pedagogy. Blatti also served as Director of Bands and Music Department Chair at York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois.
A student of legendary conductor John Paynter, Blatti earned both the Bachelor of Music Education and the Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University and has done post-graduate work in conducting at Michigan State University. He is a member of the American Bandmasters Association, CBDNA, MENC, OMEA, Pi Kappa Lambda, Phi Beta Mu, Omicron Delta Kappa, Tau Beta Sigma and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia; he also serves as a Director of the John P. Paynter Foundation. He is in constant demand as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer and is completing his work on a new conducting pedagogy handbook, Teaching Instrumental Conducting.