Russell McKinney is currently a free-lance bass trombonist based in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area of North Carolina, performing frequently in the NC Opera Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony. He is the bass trombonist for the Greensboro-based Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra. McKinney is the former bass trombonist of the Utah Symphony Orchestra, a position he held from 1989- 2011. During that time, he was active as a freelance musician in Utah including work in TV, movies, and jazz and taught at several Utah colleges and universities. In 2011 he left the Utah Symphony to return to his home state of North Carolina to work in church music and free-lance.
McKinney is currently Minister of Music at a large suburban Episcopal parish, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cary, NC. There he is the music administrator and conductor of eight ensembles that cover all age ranges. The St. Paul’s Choir recently released a CD, A Babe is Born, under his direction. He is also the Artistic Director for Oak City Voices, a thriving community women’s chorus in the Raleigh area that presents a series of concerts throughout their season. He is a frequent guest musician in the regional NC orchestras of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Fayetteville. He has recently presented masterclasses at Appalachian State University, UNC School of the Arts, and UNC at Chapel Hill.
Russell can be heard in trombone quartet recordings on the albums Collage and Utah Trombone Authority, both released on CD and audio downloads by BYU Music. He has trombone choir arrangements published by Cherry Classics, Ltd.
McKinney was a featured soloist at the 19th Annual 76+4 Trombones Concert at University of Nevada Las Vegas. He has also appeared as soloist with the Raleigh Concert Band, The UNC-CH Trombone Choir, Young Artist Chamber Players of Salt Lake, University of Utah’s Wind Symphony, the Utah Youth Symphony, the Ogden City Concert Band, the Greensboro Concert Band, and the Peabody Conservatory Wind Ensemble. He has presented solo recitals and master classes at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Ithaca College, Idaho State University, and Snow College. He has appeared with the Utah Symphony Trombone Section in master classes at two International Trombone Festivals: 1998 in Boulder, CO and 2008 in Salt Lake City, UT.
Russell was the founder and Music Director of UUTE, Utah’s Ultimate Trombone Ensemble During its ten years of activity, UUTE’s membership came from area professionals as well as the top student talent from music schools in the Salt Lake Valley and fostered creative compositions and arrangements for trombone ensembles from within the group’s membership. This ensemble was featured at the 2008 ITF under his direction.
McKinney has held bass trombone positions with the Chattanooga Symphony and the Eastern Festival Orchestra, the faculty orchestra of the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, NC, and returned there as guest faculty in 2017. He was bass trombonist of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra during the 1988-89 season as a sabbatical replacement, participating in all activities including tours and recordings with the Grammy Award-winning orchestra. Other orchestras that he has been a guest musician with include the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C., the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and the Kennedy Center Orchestra of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Russell was the Director of Low Brass Studies of the Horne School of Music at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah and Assistant Lecturer of Bass Trombone at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah simultaneously over an eight-year period. During that time, he was Music Director and Conductor for the Westminster College Chamber Orchestra in Salt Lake City where he built membership and expanded the repertoire. Prior to those positions, he has held adjunct teaching positions at The University of Utah’s School of Music, Southern College (Collegedale, TN), and Lee University (Cleveland, TN). Many of his former students have gone on to prestigious schools for graduate study and hold significant teaching and performance positions across the United States.
McKinney attended the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD receiving several awards including Peabody’s Gustav Klemm Award for exemplary work in his chosen field of study, Trombone Performance. He also received orchestral and chamber music training at the Chautauqua Institute in Chautauqua, NY, as a Bellinger Orchestra scholarship student in the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra. His principal teachers were Frank Hammond, Harold Reynolds, Edward Kiehl, Douglas Yeo, Harold Janks, and Milton Stevens.
“The ease of playing my Edwards bass trombone has allowed me to focus on the music and my growth as a musician. It has the most even response and the widest range of color for me to call upon of any instrument I have ever played. Whether I am playing solos or playing in the orchestra, it is the instrument of choice for me.”