GUEST EDITOR'S LETTER:

STEPHANIE RHODES RUSSELL, CONDUCTOR AND NONPROFIT FOUNDER
 

ON CREATING AND BUILDING OUR COMMUNITIES THROUGH GENUINE CONNECTION

I

n a world of perpetual motion, the greatest moments of clarity often come when we take a moment to stand still.  Much of my life has been a blur. An amazing wash of color and sound, driven by ambition, the love of a challenge, and the joy of creation. A myriad of memories, successes and failures, loves and losses that create the rich canvas of my past. Despite periods of great fulfillment, there was something missing. 

As an opera pianist and vocal coach, and now as a conductor, I have traveled consistently throughout my adult life for work contracts that typically range from four to twelve weeks and typically offer only one day off a week, making trips home a near impossibility. “Home” in the past decade has been located in seven different cities and three different countries which further complicates the sentiment. And with this transience came the constant lurking of loneliness. It would recede into a thin stream of gray at times, but occasionally resurge as a black void. 

CURTAIN UP: SPOTLIGHTING CONDUCTOR AND ARTS NONPROFIT FOUNDER STEPHANIE RHODES RUSSELL

By Erin Farnsworth | July 2019

“Dear Stephanie, 

Your a great sister and I believe you can do good, and get something.
And if you don’t, you will always be the greatest person 
any one could even dream of having!   

Love, 

Your sister 
Erin Colleen Rhodes 

p.s. I know for a fact you’ll do good!” 

W

hile I would like to believe that my personal encouragement of my sister as a 7-year-old led to her greatest accomplishments, that may be a touch misleading. Even at that young age I could confidently write “I believe you can do good” because Stephanie’s high aspirations and hard work led me to believe there was no other option. I watched her do good. She is good to her siblings, her parents, her peers, her co-workers, mentors, and everyone she interacts with. She sees the needs of others and works to fill them in a selfless way. 

I have watched Stephanie get ‘something’ on multiple occasions. She showed me her work, shared her passions, taught me how to change lanes, and introduced me to the excitement of setting and achieving goals. After all, three degrees, national awards and recognition, extensive career opportunities, and the founding of a non-profit organization don’t simply fall into your lap–you have to work, to go and ‘get something.’  

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