Dr. Russell Ballenger joined the faculty of the University of Mary in the fall of 2014. At UMary, Ballenger teaches low brass, directs the Jazz Ensemble, and has instructed a wide variety of courses including Introduction to Music, Orchestration and Arranging, Music History I and II, Jazz History and Methods, Sight-Singing/Ear Training III and IV, The Beatles, Beginning Improvisation, and Applied Improvisation. As coordinator of the annual University of Mary Jazz Festival, Ballenger and the UMary Jazz Ensemble have shared the stage with renowned guest artists including Dave Douglas, Matt Wilson, Alex Iles, Donny McCaslin, Joey Tartell, Glenn Kostur, Jay Ashby, and Matt Harris. He has presented as a clinician at such prestigious institutions as Boise State, West Texas A&M, and Indiana Universities
An active proponent of commissioning new works for the trombone, Ballenger commissioned, premiered, and recorded “Glint” for unaccompanied trombone by Dr. Lisa Bost-Sandberg. “Glint” was selected as the winner of the 2016 American Trombone Workshop’s composition competition and was performed by Ballenger at the 2016 American Trombone Workshop in Washington, D.C. Also an active member of the International Trombone Association, Ballenger performed on bass trombone as a member of the Cramer Trombone Choir at the 2016 ITA Festival in New York City, NY. Ballenger is a frequent contributor to the ITA journal, for which he has written nine literature reviews for publication.
Ballenger has performed with the Amarillo Symphony, Mississippi Symphony, Tuscaloosa Symphony, New Mexico Philharmonic, and currently holds the position of Principal Trombone with the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with the Four Tops and in the National Broadway tour of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical!” In the summers, Ballenger is a jazz trombone instructor and big band director at the International Music Camp. He is also the clinician for the jazz band music reading session as part of the annual JW Pepper New Sounds Music Reading Sessions in Bismarck, ND.
Dr. Ballenger holds degrees in trombone performance from Indiana University (BM), the University of New Mexico (MM), and the University of Alabama (DMA). While attending both the University of New Mexico and the University of Alabama, he served as Graduate Assistant in Jazz Studies. Dr. Ballenger’s primary teachers include Peter Ellefson, Karl Hinterbichler and Jonathan Whitaker with additional studies with Ian Bousfield, Debbie Taylor, Alex Iles, Ralph Sauer and Michael Mulcahy.