Russell Ger is a young Australian conductor based in New York. His broad repertoire spans orchestral, operatic, and choral music, which he has conducted across North America and his home country.
In September of 2016, Mr. Ger begins his tenure as the new Music Director of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra in upstate New York. Here he will conduct several subscription concerts each season, in addition to Family and Pops concerts.
As the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Brian Stacey Memorial Trust Award for Emerging Australian Conductors, Mr. Ger became a candidate for the position of Assistant Conductor with the Queensland Symphony. Mr. Ger was also invited to participate in a special showcase with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
In 2013, Mr. Ger was selected as one of four Finalists from around the world for the prestigious 2nd International Chicago Symphony Orchestra Sir Georg Solti Conducting Apprenticeship. The audition took place before a panel of experts headed by the great mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, and Chicago Symphony music director Riccardo Muti.
Mr. Ger has toured North America with renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman, promoting a recording for Sony of Jewish art-music made in 2012. Performances took place at the Hollywood Bowl with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic before an audience of 10,000, and at the Barclays Center arena in New York for an audience of 6,000. The tour also drew full-houses at the Boca Raton Arts Festival, Boston Celebrity Series at Symphony Hall, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Long Island, and Toronto. A PBS Special aired in 2014.
As an enthusiastic advocate of new music, Mr. Ger has collaborated with many contemporary composers, directing the premieres of more than a dozen new works. In 2007, under the auspices of the National Music Theatre Company, he conducted an ambitious new Australian work called The Hatpin, which was subsequently included in the distinguished New York Music-Theatre Festival.
Mr. Ger is a proud alumnus of Symphony Australia, the leading conductor training program in the country. Over the course of four years from 2004-08, Mr. Ger had the opportunity to receive instruction from notable international teachers while working with Australia’s top orchestras. Week-long residencies were maintained several times a year with the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.
Hudson Valley News Network Interview: Ger is Great!
Conductor Emeritus: Dr. Woomyung Choe
Dr. Woomyung Choe’s passion for music led him from a quiet village in Korea to the U.S. and finally to the auditorium of Mt. St. Mary’s College in Newburgh, NY. What a journey it has been! His first exposure to western music came from French Catholic missionaries who arrived in South Korea to start churches and schools. At the age of 10 he would sit outside of a church and listen to the Gregorian chant being sung by the priests.
In 1963, all music in his life stopped when he served for four years as a field surgeon in the Korean Army Medical Corps. He then traveled to America to resume his medical studies, ultimately deciding to become an oncologist. He purchased a home in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts and would often spend time during the summer at Tanglewood, listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Dr Choe met Dr. Anthony Hollander, conductor for Skidmore College, who encouraged him to formally study music. Dr. Choe therefore enrolled in an independent music study at Skidmore and earned a bachelor of arts in music over 4 1/2 years while continuing to practice medicine.
Woomyung learned that while he had a love of music, singing or playing an instrument were not his forte. He did have organizational skills and the ability to work with people, so conducting became a very natural direction for his ongoing musical studies. Under the Direction of Maestro Bruck, Dr. Choe became the oldest graduate of the Pierre Monteux School in Hancock, Maine
Then one evening with friends in Newburgh some 20 years ago, he planted the idea of starting a symphony orchestra in Orange County. Most didn’t encourage him but one — George Handler — saw the potential and could feel Woomyung’s passion.
“George never said no. He always encouraged me,” recalls Woomyung. Together they worked to raise interest in the community and then the money to make it happen. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra is proud of its history and accomplishments under Dr. Choe’s direction. We wish him much happiness in his well deserved retirement at the end of the 2014-15 concert season!