Guests of SCIMF 2018




Professor Christopher Russell conducts two orchestras in Southern California: the Azusa Pacific University (APU) Symphony and the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Symphony Orchestra.  He is an Associate Professor at APU’s College of Music and the Arts.  The Los Angeles Times called him “a forcefully dramatic conductor with a strong technique”. Recent guest conducting appearances include the MasterWorks Festival (2013-14), the International Orchestra Festival in Zhengzhou, China (2015) and the Orquestra Sinfônica Heliópolis in São Paulo, Brazil (2016).

Russell has conducted numerous premieres, including the first U.S. performances of works by Tansy Davies, Brett Dean, Jonathan Harvey, Anders Hillborg, Tristan Keuris, Magnus Lindberg, Per Nørgård, Kaija Saariaho and Éric Tanguy.  Premiere highlights include conducting the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Stockholm Diary for string orchestra with the APU Symphony Orchestra and the world and European premieres of the orchestral version of Michael Daugherty’s Lost Vegas

Russell’s musical interest also extends to performing rarely-heard older music including the U.S. premieres of three British symphonies: Havergal Brian’s 27th (1966) and 32nd (1968) and Robert Simpson’s 7th (1977). In addition, he conducted the first complete performance of any of Danish composer Rued Langgaard’s 16 symphonies in the United States, the West Coast premiere of Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 7, the 7th Symphony (1968) by Allan Pettersson marking the first performance of a Pettersson symphony in the U.S. in almost 30 years and the first U.S. performance in over 60 years of Martinů’s Intermezzo for orchestra.  He conducted the Australian and Brazilian premieres of Ives’ 2nd Symphony. 

In 2015, Russell conducted the world premiere of the Symphony in A composed in 1878 by Leopold Damrosch with the APU Symphony.  They recorded an all-Damrosch disc for Toccata Classics, which was released in late 2015. In addition to conducting, Russell is a regular lecturer for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.  For them, he has interviewed some of the most famous musicians in classical music today including conductors Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jaap van Zweden (conductor of the New York Philharmonic).

Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 5.25.49 PM.png


Concert pianist

Vladimir Khomyakov performs over 50 recitals a year as a concert pianist, conductor, chamber musician, and soloist with the world’s best symphony orchestras, such as Houston Symphony, Dresden Philharmonic, Volga Philharmonic, Tomsk Symphony, Novosibirsk Symphony, and many others. He has concertized internationally in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, China, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Holland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, etc. performing in major concert halls such as those of Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, St. Petersburg Conservatory, Seoul Arts Center, Dresden Semper Opera House, Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, Mozarteum Hall in Salzburg, Concert Hall of the Artists in Rome, Flagey Studio Four in Brussels, Zipper Hall and Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Miller Theater in Houston to name a few.

Vladimir Khomyakov is a top prizewinner of numerous world’s most prestigious piano competitions, including St. Petersburg Open Piano Competition (St. Petersburg, Russia), Anton Rubinstein International Piano Competition (Dresden, Germany), Emil Gilels International Piano Competition (Odessa, Ukraine), ISAM International Piano Competition (Michelstadt, Germany), Maria Canals International Piano Competition (Barcelona, Spain), Jose Iturbi International Piano Competition (Los Angeles, CA), Hilton Head International Piano Competition (Hilton Head Island, SC), Ima Hogg International Competition (Houston, TX), and others.

He has several published recordings on CD and DVD; his performances are broadcast on radio and television in Germany, Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Canada and the United States.

Vladimir Khomyakov is a graduate of the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory (St. Petersburg, Russia) where he studied under tutelage of Professor Alexander Sandler. Thereafter he received a Doctorate degree from the Tchaikovsky State Conservatory (Moscow, Russia), studio of Professor Yuri Martynov. In addition, he finished with honors Artist Diploma and Doctorate programs in piano performance at the USC Thornton School of Music (Los Angeles, CA) from the studio of world-renowned pianist Professor Daniel Pollack, and later was chosen as his assistant.

Dr. Khomyakov is an on-going jury-member of ISAM international Piano Competition (Baden Wurttemberg, Germany), Pacific Musical Society Music Competition (San Francisco, CA), Yuri Yegorov Open Piano Competition (Kazan, Russia), LANSUM International Music Festival and Competition (Los Angeles, CA).

Vladimir Khomyakov is a Professor at the music faculty of the Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, CA)




Chinese pianist Zhang Xinning started playing piano at age four with her father, and started studying at age 10 at the music school affiliated with the Central Conservatory of Music, China’s national leading school of music in Beijing. At 18, she entered the Conservatory, and quickly was acknowledged as a talented student, graduating with high scores on her final examinations. After graduation, she became a teacher in the Conservatory, and during that time performed numerous solo recitals, concertos, and concerts with her students, as well as recorded demonstration performance videos. 

Zhang Xinning received her MM in piano performance from Northwestern University in 1997, winning 2nd prize in Northwestern University’s Concerto Competition during her degree work. 

Zhang Xinning adjudicates competitions for many national professional piano competitions in China and her students place high in competitions, both in China and abroad. Her students have gone on to study at top music schools in Europe and the United States, including The Julliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, London, and the Universität der Künste Berlin, among others. 

Currently, Prof. Zhang is teaching at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China.