Last month, I posted an A.P.B. about my missing friend, the distinguished American composer Russell Peck, who had gone missing on March 1, 2009.
Five days later, Russell's body was found, in a secluded patch of woods only 500 yards from his own front door (the search for him had concentrated on an area in the opposite direction (for entirely logical reasons).
He had died by his own hand, leaving no note, no explanation, no message that would bring any solace to his devastated family or his deeply concerned friends. I shall spare you the details, which did not get into the papers -- rightfully so, for he had chosen a gruesome means of making his exit.
It's been a week since the horrible truth was learned, and I have still not been able to get a decent night's sleep for the nightmares, or regain any forward momentum in my own life. I wish to thank those who have sent messages of concern and sympathy.
There is good news concerning my own career, but it will have to wait. This posting belongs to Russell's memory, and I can do nothing more than post his official obituary, which -- if you will but read it -- will show what a remarkable man he was and how much he had accomplished in his life.
>>>>>>>>> THE OBITUARY <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
RUSSELL JAMES PECK, 64, departed this life on Sunday, March 1, 2009.
Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 19, at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3505 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Interment will follow in the St. Francis Memorial Gardens.
Russell, a noted composer, dedicated humanitarian, loving husband and father, as born in Detroit, Michigan on January 25, 1945, to the late Margaret and Tom Peck. He was an honors graduate of the University of Michigan, where he also received Masters and Doctorate degrees in musical composition. A very influential person in his musical life was his first composition teacher, Clark Eastham, who introduced him to the magnificence of the symphony orchestra and the inner workings of musical composition. Russell served as composer-in-residence with the city of Indianapolis where he met his wife, Cameron Gordon Peck, then a music student at Butler University. They relocated to Greensboro in 1977.
His orchestral compositions have received thousands of performances by hundreds of orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. These include the major orchestras of Boston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Britain's London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic; performances at Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, and in Berlin,, Warsaw, Barcelona, Kiev, Montreal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cairo, Caracas, and other cities worldwide.
An Albany Records compact disk of four of Russell's orchestral compositions (TROY-040) features recordings by the London Symphony. Other recordings are on the Koch International and Channel Crossings labels of the Netherlands. His "Peace Overture" was among the first serious American orchestral works played in the Peoples Republic of China (Shanghai Symphony) and in Africa (Cairo Symphony).
In 200-2001, a consortium of 39 American orchestras commissioned Russell's Timpani Concerto "Harmonic Rhythms". The premiere performance was with the Louisville Orchestra and preceded with orchestras throughout the country.
Other well-known compositions include a triple concerto for percussion, a saxophone concerto, and a concerto for four cellos. "The Glory and the Grandeur", "Sings of Life" for string orchestra, and "The Thrill of the Orchestra", a narrated demonstration piece which was recorded for the Discovery series by the Royal Philharmonic has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Korean, and Cantonese.
For more than 30 years, Russell collaborated with his friend Marshall Gordon to create and implement a worldwide policy for eradicating starvation. As Russell recently wrote: "A starvation-free world is utterly imperative for the hope of world peace." He believed that continued starvation results in ongoing conflict, which cripples efforts to improve global living conditions. Russell and Marshall first submitted a United Nations Starvation-Free World draft resolution during the Clinton Administration, which states: "Resolved, that the Member States of the United Nations will henceforth honor the principle that starvation-free conditions are always to be maintained in their respective national territories and, in cooperation with the United Nations, for all the world's peoples." Although the George W. Bush administration indicated that the wording was acceptable to the United Nations, passage has not yet been achieved, due to the lack of a sponsoring nation.
Russell is survived by his wife of 37 years, Cameron Gordon Peck of Greensboro; daughter Eva Wreford, and husband Sebastian of Ann Arbor, Michigan, grandchildren Dashiell and Lola Wreford; and sisters Jean Bobo and Joyce Larkin.
The family extends heartfelt thanks to the entire Greensboro community for its heroic efforts in searching for Russell and for comforting and supporting his family.
Russell's commitment to kindness, the joy of music, and a starvation-free world may be honored with gifts to the St. Francis Episcopal Church endowment fund or the humanitarian organization of your choice.
And now, on to this month's New Listings!