Percussion Professor Russell Hartenberger becomes Dean in 2008 #tbt

Having recently joined Steve Reich and Musicians in 1971 and founding percussion ensemble Nexus in 1972, Russell Hartenberger wrapped up his Ethnomusicology PhD at Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1974 and joined the Faculty of Music as percussion professor.

Russell Hartenberger performing on Clapping Music recording (1972) with composer Steve Reich:

Nexus was a fixture at U of T Music as an Ensemble in Residence and was highly influential in contemporary music circles, touring around the world for decades.

Nexus promotional photo (L-R: John Wyre, Russell Hartenberger, Bill Cahn, Bob Becker, Robin Engelman), photo by Doug Forster. Percussion Professor Russell Hartenberger went on to be Dean from 2007-2010.
Nexus promotional photo (L-R: John Wyre, Russell Hartenberger, Bill Cahn, Bob Becker, Robin Engelman), photo by Doug Forster.

Dr. Hartenberger is an extraordinary musician and teacher. From the Nexus website:

With Steve Reich and Musicians he recorded for ECM, DGG and Nonesuch Records, and performed on the Grammy Award winning recording of Music for 18 Musicians. With the Reich Ensemble, Russell toured throughout the world and performed with the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Cologne Radio Orchestra, London Symphony and Brooklyn Philharmonic. As a member of Nexus, Russell has performed with leading orchestras in North America, Europe and Asia. Along with members of Nexus, he created the sound track for the Academy Award-winning Full-Length Documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest. His awards include the Toronto Arts Award in 1989, Banff Centre for the Arts National Award in 1997, a Juno nomination in 2005, and was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999. He was presented with the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts by the World Cultural Council at Leiden University, the Netherlands in November of 2017.

Students of Prof Hartenberger have gone on to perform and teach around the world, including with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, L’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Florida State University, University of Hong Kong, University of Arizona, or found their our percussion ensembles like TorQ Percussion Quartet.

In the 2007-2008 academic year Prof Hartenberger was named Interim Dean and was officially named Dean beginning July 1, 2008, a position he held until December 31, 2010. He was the first (and only) performance faculty member to become Dean in the Faculty’s history.

At the end of the 2015-2016 academic year after being a faculty member at the University of Toronto for 42 years, Prof Hartenberger retired. A celebration was held in Walter Hall on April 10, 2016 and featured a 10 minute long Snare Drum Roll Marathon with alumni, faculty and students on stage.

Snare drum prep photo by Cecilia Hye Won Lee
Snare Drum Roll Marathon photo by Michelle Hwu
Percussion Professor Russell Hartenberger started the “Snare Drum Olympics” at the Faculty in 1999. At his retirement event on April 10, 2016, 67 alumni and students did a final salute with a 10 minute marathon roll. Video clip by Lydia Wong.

As he retired Prof Hartenberger published not one, but two books: The Cambridge Companion to Percussion (February 2016) and Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich (October 2016).

A recent interview with Professor Hartenberger. He tells his students “Play everything you can, every kind of music, at every level, and at the end of the rehearsal or concert, say ‘what did I learn?’”: