Russel Walder is a man of many passions — musician, actor, director, painter, writer — and he pushes the boundaries in everything he does. Walder has toured the world as an oboe soloist, and his discography includes a composition on Windham Hill’s Grammy nominated, double platinum album Winter Solstice. He has recorded three albums with pianist Ira Stein for Windham Hill and Narada Records and guested with prominent new age artists Will Ackerman and Suzanne Cianni. On Pure Joy, Walder’s debut album with Real Music, he has composed music featuring the oboe that is passionate and expansive, soulful, yearning, intimate, and filled with radiant joy.
Russel’s love for music began at age 17, when he joined the United States Youth Symphony for a world tour first appearing at Carnegie Hall. With a foundation of classical training and mastery of the instrument, he ventured into jazz at 20. Walder has studied with the legendary group Oregon and performed with such diverse groups as Afro-Celt Sound System, Yungchen Lhamo and Urban Tap from New York.
Russel had a starring role in the New Zealand Film Commission’s Lunatics’ Ball, which won the prestigious “Golden Cup” award special jury prize at the 1999 Shanghai Film Festival. His role was notable for his oboe playing, which was also performed with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as part of the soundtrack.
In 1998, Russel founded Silent State, which is a platform for a soloist or in collaboration with distinguished guests. The music of Silent State has become a language all its own and includes North African chants, Middle Eastern harmonics, ambient soundtracks and lush arrangements. Silent State performed to rave reviews at Peter Gabriel’s 1999 Womad Festival in Auckland, New Zealand.
In his continual search to stretch the boundaries of performance, Russel also created Power Spot, a fully improvised tour de force of oboe virtuosity over a pre-recorded set of powerful ambient soundscapes. As a New York Times critic put it, “At times you get the feeling that you are being hypnotized by a shaman with a sense of humor, but you keep floating, flying and dreaming about distant deserts and nomadic tribes.”