A graceful yet powerful force on the podium, Argentinian-Italian conductor Michelle Di Russo is known for her compelling interpretations, passionate musicality, and championing of contemporary music. Recently appointed Interim Director of Orchestras at Cornell University and as the new Assistant Conductor of North Carolina Symphony, she is a Freeman Conducting Fellow in Chicago Sinfonietta’s prestigious Project Inclusion program and The Dallas Opera Hart Institute.
Former posts include serving Assistant Conductor for the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra and serving as cover conductor and assistant for The Phoenix Symphony and Arizona Musicfest. In addition to her fellowships, Di Russo was the recipient of a 2020 American Austrian Foundation/Faber Young Conductors Fellowship, a Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Conducting Scholarship at the Cabrillo Music Festival of Contemporary Music, and has served as a conducting fellow at the Cortona Sessions for New Music in Italy.
Recent engagements include her debut with the North Carolina Symphony in two Young Person’s Concerts featuring bilingual scripts (English-Spanish) as well as assisting Joseph Young and Sarah Hicks. Engagements with Arizona Musicfest and The Dallas Opera Institute originally scheduled for spring 2021 have been rescheduled for the next season. During the pandemic Di Russo co-created Girls Who Conduct, an organization dedicated to bridge the gap between women and men in the conducting field and encourage younger generations of women and non-binary conductors to overcome any obstacles presented due to their gender.
Past performance highlights include serving as Assistant Conductor for Prague Summer Nights Festival in productions of Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte in the Czech Republic; leading the state premiere of Annika Socolofsky’s Gaze at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music; leading the premiere of Carlos Simon’s This Land at Arizona’s Gammage Memorial Auditorium’s “Beyond the Concert Series;” and serving as cover conductor for Grant Llewellyn with North Carolina Symphony. Di Russo has guest conducted the United States Pershing’s Own Army Band, the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra, the Teatro Colón’s Orquesta Académica and the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina Orchestra.
Michelle Di Russo’s artistic journey began at the age of three in ballet and continued with studies in voice and piano. She has participated as dancer/actress in Argentinian Disney TV shows such as Violetta and Rincon de Luz. Prior to switching her focus to the podium, she was a cast member of a professional musical theatre production "Drácula" by Cibrian-Mahler while an undergraduate, gaining insight into the ways of a working theatre. This passion for theatre has endured in her work conducting Opera and Musical Theatre.
A native of Argentina, Di Russo holds a Doctoral Degree in Orchestral Conducting from Arizona State University and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Kentucky. She completed her degree in Orchestral Conducting and Music Production of Audiovisual Media from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, where she was awarded an Ad-Hoc Diploma for the highest grade in Orchestral Conducting.
She has participated in masterclasses with conductors Cristian Măcelaru, Emmanuel Villaume, Marin Alsop, Carlo Montanaro, and Guillermo Scarabino. Mentors include Mei-Ann Chen, Tito Muñoz, Jeffery Meyer and Carlos Vieu.