San Diego Master Chorale

Declared "The Voice of San Diego" by mayoral proclamation, The San Diego Master Chorale (SDMC) is the region’s premier choral ensemble, showcasing approximately 100 of San Diego's finest singers. Established in 1961, the SDMC is the preferred ensemble for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra and other collaborating organizations, and produces an annual series of concerts featuring the world’s greatest choral works.

Legendary choral composer Alice Parker personally presented the San Diego Master Chorale with the prestigious ASCAP/Alice Parker Award for Innovative Choral Programming at the 2009 Chorus America Convention, in recognition of its debut performance of Daniel Kellogg's The Fiery Furnace with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. In 2012 The San Diego Master Chorale was also chosen to perform under the direction of the celebrated Chinese composer Tan Dun in the San Diego premiere of his Water Passion According to St. Matthew, which was lauded by reviewers as “riveting” and the La Jolla Music Society SummerFest’s “finest hour” since the annual event was launched 25 seasons ago. 

The mission of the San Diego Master Chorale is “to promote and preserve the art of choral music through performance, education and diverse community outreach.” Their singers, who are all unpaid volunteers, also participate in the Chorale's community outreach programs, including on-site music workshops for groups ranging from elementary schools to senior centers. They regularly collaborate with the San Diego Youth Symphony, Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and other San Diego arts organizations. 



Dr. John Russell is the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Palomar College and the Music Director of the San Diego Master Chorale and. At Palomar he conducts the Chamber Singers and the Palomar Chorale oversees the vocal music program. As Music Director of the SDMC, Dr. Russell conducts and coordinates all artistic activities of the chorale, which include preparing the chorus for performances with San Diego Symphony and other San Diego orchestras including the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra and La Jolla Symphony. In addition, he serves on the summer conducting faculty at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he teaches master classes in conducting for the annual Westminster Summer Choral Festival.

Dr. Russell is also frequently in demand as a tenor soloist and was recently noted for his “heart-melting legato”. His recent solo performances include Hector Berlioz’s Te Deum with the San Diego Symphony, St. John Passion (Evangelist) with Pepperdine University, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with the Lisbon Summer Choral Festival Chorus and Orchestra in Lisbon, Portugal, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Bach Collegium San Diego.

Dr. Russell was previously the Director of Choral Activities at California State University, San Bernardino, and has held similar positions at Albion College (Michigan), Los Angeles City College, Cypress College and the San Diego Children’s Choir. Prior to his work in California, Dr. Russell was the principal choral conductor at the LaGuardia School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the Fame School) in New York City. At LaGuardia he was the assistant chairperson of the Music Department, conductor of the symphonic chorus and voice instructor for the school’s advanced vocalists. While in New York he conducted in over 20 performances with the world-renowned Orchestra of St. Luke’s, served as a clinician for the New York Philharmonic’s Education Department and was a guest conductor with New York City National Chorale.

Dr. John Russell is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan and is a graduate of Western Michigan University and Columbia University. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Music from the University of Southern California. His primary conducting mentors are Craig Arnold, Joe Miller and Jo-Michael Scheibe and he has studied voice with William Appel, Curt Peterson, Jeanne Goffi-Fynn and Gary Glaze. He currently resides in San Diego with his wife, Jill and son, Parker.