2019 TMA149 Lifetime Achievement Award – Russell Hartenberger
Russell Hartenberger’s performance history begins with the Oklahoma City Symphony in 1960. The ensembles he has played with include the United States Air Force Band, The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, The Paul Winter Consort and the Canadian Opera Orchestra. His longest performing tenures have been with two of the most important musical ensembles in North America; the Steve Reich Ensemble and the percussion group NEXUS. Both of these groups were formed in 1971, and Russell has been a continuous member of both from their inception until today. Being involved directly with Steve Reich’s music from the earliest pieces has given him a unique position from which his recent publication “Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich” (Cambridge University Press, 2016) was written. This insiders’ look at performance issues in Mr. Reich’s music has quickly become an indispensable tool for musicians performing this music. His countless performances and recordings with The Steve Reich Ensemble are staples. This ensemble won a Grammy in 1998 for the recording of Music for 18 Musicians. NEXUS, also formed in 1971, has literally reshaped percussion music over the last 5 decades. Russell, as a founding member of this Toronto-based ensemble, has toured the world with the group. NEXUS has led the charge for bringing percussion music to concert halls and university music curriculums the world over. Described as “the high priests of the percussion world” by the New York Times, the ensemble has been at the forefront of the percussion world for decades. John Wyre (former timpanist with the Toronto Symphony and member of NEXUS) described Russell as “the Rock of Gibraltar” in NEXUS. His calm, solid musicianship has always been at the core of NEXUS as an ensemble. Russell also has a significant list of compositions he has penned. Upon his recent retirement from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, this aspect of Russell’s musical life has been ramped up even further with several large scale works of note. His most recent work, Requiem for Percussion and Voices, is an hour long, multiple movement piece currently in production. He has past compositions that have made their way into the modern percussion ensemble repertoire worldwide. He and NEXUS created the score for the full-length documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”, which won an Academy Award for its’ soundtrack in 1978. His arrangements can be found on several NEXUS recordings and are performed frequently world-wide. In addition to all of his performing and composing accomplishments, Mr. Hartenberger has just recently completed a significant career as a music educator. His teaching career began in 1962 and ended with his recent appointment as Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. His influences on his students has led them into teaching positions throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. Former students have also landed significant playing positions in major orchestras the world over, and in some of the foremost musical ensembles globally. In brief, Russell’s career is extensive and far-reaching. His recent publications on Cambridge University Press, his extensive discography and concert experience, his 2017 Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts award, presented to him by The World Cultural Council and his former students long lists of successes attests to a musical life well done! It is with great pleasure that the Toronto Musicians’ Association honours Russell Hartenberger with the Lifetime Achievement Award!
Russell Hartenberger; Percussionist, Composer, Educator From Russell: “I moved to Toronto in 1974 and joined the TMA in my first few weeks in town. I first joined the AFofM as a member of the Oklahoma City local in 1960. Subsequently, I was a member of AFofM locals in Philadelphia, New Haven and New York City. We [NEXUS] certainly could not have survived without the understanding and support of the Toronto Musicians’ Association who, from the inception of the group, recognized the importance of the ensemble and paved the way for our recognition as a significant Canadian cultural organization”