Friday, September 25, 2009

High note for DDP student

Russ Martin leads the Walla Walla Symphony’s 2008 season to a rousing start.

The 80 musicians had finished tuning up. More than 1,300 people waited. Russ Martin had never conducted before. He walked on stage – “a fascinating combination of pure terror and sheer exhilaration” – raised his baton, and launched the Walla Walla Symphony’s 2008 season with the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Despite the pressure, his heartbeat remained adagio: “I was remarkably calm,” he said. “As I think back on it now, it was a dreamlike moment in time, as if time itself stood still.”
Martin, 52, is no stranger to taking chances. More... In 1977, he left his political science studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland to open a chain of record stores. The chain, Play it Again, never grew past two stores, but that “wild and crazy time” led him to the music distribution business. He became a territory manager for Capitol Records, vice president of several music distribution companies, and president of Miramar Records.
Then he saw an ad in the Walla Walla newspaper. The symphony needed an executive director.
Undeterred by his lack of non-profit management experience, he sent a resume and was hired in 2001. In 2005, a friend persuaded him to return to the music and video distribution business. He moved to Bainbridge Island, where he’s the national sales manager for ESI Distribution.
Last fall, the symphony’s general manager remembered Martin’s secret desire to conduct and arranged for a few lessons from symphony conductor Yaacov Bergman.
“It was an opportunity to experience one of my fantasy occupations,” Martin said. “Kind of like throwing out the first pitch at a Major League game.”
Martin is also considering non-fantasy occupations. To get there, he looked at several online degree programs. He chose Washington State University “because of its commitment to offering a world-class education to all.”
In 2006, he enrolled in Distance Degree Programs. He’s majoring in social sciences, and said his courses in science, English, and human development “have opened my eyes forever.”
He graduated in spring 2009 with plans to pursue an executive master’s degree in nonprofit leadership or, possibly, a master’s in fine arts administration. After that, he said, “who knows?”
Wherever the path leads, he’s eager for the next adventure.
“The second half for me is about to begin and I’m thrilled.”

By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education
Photo by Hans Matschukat

No comments:

Post a Comment