The SSO announces the retirement of Lahni Russell after more than three decades as Principal Cellist.
Ms. Russell earned a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music (both with High Distinction) from Indiana University studying with world-renowned cellist, Janos Starker. Post-graduation she spent two years at the Banff Centre of the Arts and was the first ‘cellist to win the Regina Concerto Competition (1987) before winning the audition for Principal Cellist in Saskatoon in 1989.
During her tenure she captivated SSO audiences with many solo concerto performances including Haydn D Major, Kabalevsky, Haydn C Major, Vivaldi and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons, and in 2018, Jocelyn Morlock’s remarkable ‘Exaudi’ with the Canadian Chamber Choir. In the wider community, Ms. Russell was a founding member of Prairie Virtuosi and the U of S Amati Quartet, she sat as first chair for the Saskatoon Opera and accompanied the Saskatoon Children’s Choir on many occasions. Across Canada, she performed as guest artist with the Calgary Philharmonic in Banff, as guest Principal Cello in Regina and in the Victoria and Vancouver Symphony sections. She was Solo cello for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet during performances in Saskatoon and Victoria and was hired for that same position on the Ballet’s tours across the U.S.
In addition to her orchestral performances, Ms. Russell teaches private lessons (in person and online), coaches string ensembles and has mentored advanced string students prior to competitions and exams.
Ms. Russell is also an accomplished luthier and bowmaker. She has provided stringed instrument and bow repair, restoration services, and appraisals to professional musicians and students province-wide and beyond. Her clients have included visiting guest artists and principal string players in professional orchestras. She has operated her own business, LJ Russell Violin and Bowmaker, since 1995. She will continue to teach and offer violin shop services.
Ms. Russell is the longest serving Principal Cellist in the SSO. To recognize her contribution to the orchestra, we are happy to bestow upon her the honorary title of Principal Cellist Emeritus. We thank Lahni for her years of service and wish her well.