Malcolm Russell FRCO ARAM (17 October 1945 - 24 July 2013)

 

Founder and Artistic Director of the EAA

 

Malcolm was a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music with a deep interest in

early keyboard music - he owned both a harpsichord and clavichord and regularly

sought out early organs in the area on which to perform. This led to his wish to

bring the music to a wider audience, and to fill a void which existed in his part of Suffolk.
In 1996 he encouraged a selection of fellow musicians to join him in setting up the
East
Anglian Academy
of Organ & Early Keyboard Music.

 

This was to offer performances of the highest professional standard. He freely

admitted that matters clerical and financial were best left to others, but such

was his enthusiasm that he had no difficulty in securing a first-rate committee.

Judith, his wife, played a leading role as secretary, programme typesetter and

caterer, and with his connections in the performing community Malcolm became the

musical director.

 

As a former organist at St. Michael’s Framlingham, Malcolm knew well the possibilities
of the wonderful 1674 Thamar organ, and the church was central to the performances

of the EAA. Over a four year period he performed all J.S. Bach organ works on

the Thamar. The chamber organ in the Unitarian Chapel also seemed very

appropriate for EAA use, and Malcolm did not hesitate in incorporating that

venue into his programmes. Brandeston church too, with the organ beautifully

restored by Peter Bumstead, proved to be ideal as an EAA concert setting,

particularly when small-scale cantatas were programmed.

 

A teacher of music himself - piano, harpsichord, organ and school music -

Malcolm was insistent that EAA events should include master-classes and

illustrated talks whenever possible. The setting up of bursaries for talented

students was instigated under his guidance. In 2001 he was awarded the ARAM for

services to music.

In the early 70s the Gothic Singers rose again from the ashes as the Phoenix Singers
and in 1976 took up residence in Framlingham, where Malcolm continued to conduct
them until 1996. Together they performed 60 concerts including the Tallis 40 part motet,
Bach B Minor Mass, the three Masses of Bruckner, Elgar part songs, Haydn and Mozart
Masses, music by Arvo Pärt and pieces by Rachmaninoff sung in Russian.  Audience numbers
certainly exceeded those in the choir, and their reputation grew and spread across East Anglia
under Malcolm’s direction.

When asked how his musical career began he put it down to a recording of the Tchaikovsky 1812
Overture given to him by his godfather - he then got cracking and in less than three years gained
grade 8 in piano and organ and a place at the Royal Academy of Music.

 

Such was the success of Malcolm’s EAA that it ran with no grants and remained

always in the black. It attracted many celebrated musicians such as Gustav

Leonhardt, Gerald Gifford, Piet Kee and Maggie Cole, all contributing to the

rich and varied programmes for which the EAA is known. Malcolm would be proud to

know that his endless enthusiasm has generated such a growing following, and

that this continues under the direction of the present team.