Russell Pascoe (Born 5 June 1959) is a Cornish composer, conductor and teacher. He was educated at Helston School and Bristol University, studying composition with Derek Bourgeois. He was the founding conductor of the Cornwall Youth Chamber Choir, has been repetiteur and chorus master for Duchy Opera and currently conducts City of Truro Male Choir. He was Director of Music at Richard Lander School and has taught composition for the South West Music School. In 2000 he was nominated as one of Classic FM's Music Teachers of the Year and was runner-up in the South West Teacher of the Year 2004. Russell is a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd.
On leaving University he composed Cornish Fanfare, a celebratory work for soloists, choir and orchestra, commissioned by Cornwall Music Service and performed in Cornwall Coliseum. Soon after Parc an meyn los was written for Nicholas Jones, cello and Gayle Light, piano for their Purcell Room debut.
Important early works include: Four Cornish Folksongs for voice and piano (composed for Benjamin Luxon) and later orchestrated; his opera The Murder of Charlotte Dymond, with a libretto by Christopher William Hill (1999); and the orchestral works The Martyrdom of An Gof (premiered at the Barbican, London in 1997); and Yseult of the White Hands (commissioned by the Cornwall Sinfonia, 2007).
Russell has developed a fruitful partnership with St Mary’s Singers, resulting in the commissions, Love’s Agonie (Three Medieval Lyrics) and Salmow Kernewek (Cornish Psalms), both available on CD. His Pader an Arleth, a setting of the Lord’s Prayer in Cornish, ‘Lo, how a Rose’, Missa Brevis, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and Salutation Carol have all been recorded by Truro Cathedral Choir.
Other commissions have included: Keskan I, celebrating 100th Anniversary of Cornwall Music Festival; ‘The Harrowing of Hell, a work for four soloists and organ, for Amnesty International’s 50th Anniversary; a piece to open Truro Choral Society’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations and Keskan III which was commissioned for the High Sheriff’s Concert in Bristol Cathedral.
In 2012 Russell was commissioned by the Three Spires Singers to compose the Secular Requiem, to a text culled from world literature by Anthony Pinching. This substantial work (“outstandingly beautiful…, universal, and – ultimately – full of hope.” – Bel Mooney. Daily Mail) was premiered in Truro Cathedral in March 2013 and had its London premiere later that year, proving popular with both choir and the capacity audiences.
The partnership with Anthony Pinching continued in 2015 with the song-cycle, Three Masks, One Face, commissioned by Truro 3 Arts, for Marcus Farnsworth and Iain Burnside, and the large scale cantata based on the apocryphal legends of Christ, A Different Child. As Composer in Residence for the Exon Festival 2018 Russell set Anthony's text, St Eustachius Triptych and later in the same year, Three Remembrance Anthems for Truro Cathedral's service to commemorate the end of WW1.
2020 will be an exciting year as in March the Three Spires Singers will again perform the Secular Requiem and in May, Truro Cathedral Choir and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with soloists Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Paul Carey Jones, will commit it to disc.