Michelle Di Russo most recently graduated with a Doctoral Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Arizona State University under the guidance of Jeffery Meyer. There she served as Assistant Conductor for the ASU Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, and Music Theatre and Opera.
This year Michelle was selected as the recipient of the American Austrian Foundation/Faber Young Conductors Fellowship 2020 and was awarded a grant to use towards perfecting her conducting. She has also been selected to be a part of Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion season 20/21 and a conducting fellow at The Dallas Opera Hart Institute for Women Conductors in 2021. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic she was not able to fulfill her role as cover conductor with Arizona Music Fest for Robert Moody in April 2021 and Arizona Opera for Steven White on the production of Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos in March 2020. Her role consisted in conducting two dress rehearsals at the piano with the two casts. In addition to this, her final concert with the Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra conducting Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5 was also canceled.
During the 19/20 season Michelle was a finalist for the Assistant Conductor position with the North Carolina Symphony where she experienced a trial week with the orchestra, covered for Grant Llewellyn, and performed an educational concert. She continued with her role as Assistant Conductor for the Phoenix Youth Symphony and was invited to return as a guest conductor by the University of Kentucky for their “On Parade” Concert, conducting works by Clara Schumann. She also conducted a full production of Suor Angelica and was featured on the Gammage “Beyond The Concert Series” premiering a work by Carlos Simon at ASU.
Dedicated to the music of our time, she has participated twice in the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music working with Cristian Măcelaru and Marin Alsop (most recently as the recipient of the Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Conducting Scholarship), participated in workshops with the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” conducting Anahita by Roshanne Etezady, and was a conducting fellow at the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy.
Michelle was the assistant for Prague Summer Nights Festival in productions of Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberföte in the Czech Republic in 2015 and 2018, and has served as cover conductor for Tito Muñoz with The Phoenix Symphony and Symphony Silicon Valley. She will be returning to Phoenix in 2021 to work once more with Robert Moody at the Arizona Musicfest.
With Italian roots and raised in Argentina, Michelle completed her degree in Orchestral Conducting and Music Production of Audiovisual Media from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina studying with Carlos Vieu. She was awarded an Ad-Hoc Diploma for the highest grade in Orchestral Conducting, and during her time in Buenos Aires was selected to participate in the Teatro Colon Masterclass with Guillermo Scarabino in 2015. Michelle also holds a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Kentucky where she studied with John Nardolillo and was awarded a Graduate Fellowship.
Michelle's background is in voice and dance. During her years as a student she was a cast member of a professional musical theatre production called "Drácula" by Cibrian-Mahler, where she learned the insights and the ways of a working theatre. She started her studies in ballet at the age of three and singing lessons at the age of sixteen. This passion for theatre has endured as conducting Opera and Musical Theatre has become second nature to her.