Russel C. Mikkelson was appointed director of University Bands at The Ohio State University in 1998; he serves as professor of music (conducting) and area head of Conducting and Ensembles, conducts the Wind Symphony, leads the graduate wind conducting program and oversees all aspects of the university's band program. Under his direction, the Wind Symphony has performed at the 2003 and 2015 College Band Directors National Association Conventions; the 2014 CBDNA North Central Conference; the 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2018 Ohio Music Educators Association Conventions; and has recorded six CDs (music.osu.edu/bands/resources/recordings): Network (Naxos 2016), Rest (Naxos 2012), Southern Harmony (Naxos 2009), Winds of Nagual (Naxos, 2007), Jubilare! (Mark Records, 2003) and Sounds, Shapes and Symbols (Mark Records, 2000). In a 2010 review of the Southern Harmony recording, Fanfare magazine proclaims, "The Ohio State musicians play their collective hearts out and conductor Mikkelson shapes the music with a loving hand, wringing every last drop of emotion out of the music. If this does not give you goose-bumps, nothing will."
A staunch advocate for the creation of new works, Mikkelson chairs the Big Ten Conference’s Commissioning Project, serves on the American Bandmasters Association Commissioning Committee, the New Works Committee for the College Band Directors National Association, and has instituted a program of regular commissioning projects for the Ohio State Bands. He has received praise from composers Leslie Bassett, Krzysztof Penderecki, John Corigliano, Michael Colgrass, Joseph Schwantner, Aaron Jay Kernis, Jennifer Higdon, Gunther Schuller, Lukas Foss, Augusta Read Thomas, Frank Ticheli, John Mackey, Steven Bryant and Michael Daugherty—among others—for his musical realization of their compositions. Corigliano wrote, “Russel Mikkelson is a conductor who really understands my music, and that’s rare.”
Dr. Mikkelson is past president of the Big Ten Band Directors Association; president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA); a member of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE), NAfME, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Phi Beta Mu; and an elected member of the American Bandmasters Association. An enthusiastic advocate of public school music education, Dr. Mikkelson has conducted All-State Bands, Festivals, and Honor Bands across the United States and internationally. He serves as music director and conductor of the professional Newark-Granville Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Heisey Wind Ensemble, a highly skilled community band based in Newark, Ohio. He is the recipient of The Ohio State University School of Music Distinguished Teaching Award (2015) and the Distinguished Scholar Award (2005), in addition to serving on the editorial board of the Journal of Band Research. He has published articles in The Instrumentalist and The Journal of the Conductor’s Guild; as a composer/arranger, he is published through C. Alan and Daehn Publications.