Pianist Russell Gates

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Date(s) - Sat, Sep 16, 2023
7:30 PM - 9:45 PM



Pianist Russell Gates

Tickets for this event range from $10-$20 including fees ($16+fees for adults and $6+fees for students). Doors will open one hour prior to showtime and seating for this event will begin 30 minutes prior to showtime.

Russell Gates’ performance for the benefit concert will feature a variety of bouncy, colorful tunes and a selection of jazz including Rhapsody in Blue.

The annual benefit, organized by Diane Smith Pridgeon and her sister Susanne Smith Wise, honors the memories of their family Ruth, Robert, Douglas and Dean Smith. Years ago when their father and two brothers died in a small plane crash, the farming community rallied around the family to help them harvest their fields. The annual musical celebration, as Pridgeon has explained, “is a way for us to give back to the community that loved us back to life…”

Pridgeon said, “We are so happy to showcase Russell Gates on the Tibbits stage.  Over the years other local talent has been featured, including Woody English, Chris Hodson, Alison Reese and Chelsea Hart Melcher. We know you’ll enjoy the flare Russell brings to many well-loved melodies!”

Pridgeon is excited to name the Coldwater Community Center as this year’s designated charity, since they are “helping to bring about connectivity to our community, which was celebrated last year at this concert. It’s exciting that Coldwater now has a meeting place where all cultures can come together.” Over the years, different non-profits have benefited from this event, including Habitat for Humanity, the local food pantry, the health clinic, Hospice, Family Promise, Tibbits, area choir programs, and others.

Please help keep our community healthy. If you are ill or experiencing any symptoms, please DO NOT attend a performance. Click HERE to view our rescheduling and refund policy.


Russell Gates has performed piano professionally for 20 years, starting at an abandoned-train-station-turned-restaurant. In 2001, his composition Moment Of Triumph won the Kalamazoo Symphony’s Youth Composition Contest, performed in multiple venues by the KSO and the MESA SO.  During his teen years, he was a student of jazz pianist and Gilmore Artist Ron Di Salvio. While attending Hillsdale College, he was recorded on the HC Big Band CD Opus One, the jazz combo album New Music, accompanied modern dance class, performed with the Jackson SO, at the Music School of Prague, and Loyola University for the 16th New Orleans Classical Piano Institute.

Following graduation in 2005 with a Bachelor Of Science in Music Composition / Piano Performance, he performed in show band orchestras on worldwide tours with Holland America, Regent, and Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/Azamara Cruises, accompanying thousands of shows. This included the musical Grease aboard Independence Of The Seas. Guest entertainer highlights were actor/comedian Marty Allen, the Temptations Tribute, Sesame Street Musical Director Marty Henn, X-Factor finalist Austin Drage, Britain’s Got Talent saxophonist Julian Smith, and American Idol singer Lou Gazzara. As a Stowaway Pianist, Russell also put his spin on the ups and downs of “elevator parties,” creating sing-alongs and unforgettable memories.

Russell does a variety of private and public concerts, from trio performances accompanying A Charlie Brown Christmas to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto. He has added sonic landscapes to many theatrical and other productions at the historic Tibbits Opera House. He can also be caught frequently as a piano entertainer, sometimes taking requests during festivals at Southern Michigan’s Museum Gallery. Memorable gigs include accompanying Metropolitan Opera Countertenor Andre Nemzer in his personal concert, Food Channel’s columnist Laura Kurella spontaneously in her live cooking show, and accompanying the Grand Rapids Ballet Company.

For fun, Russell regularly busked Grand Rapids’ Art Prize / Play Me, I’m Yours domestically, headlined Open Space at the last Traverse City Film Festival, and occasionally takes a relaxed solo with the Lew Boyd Big Band. Benefit concerts given have been for personal fundraisers and American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

Russell has had master classes with international piano competition winner Alan Chow and Woody Herman Band pianist Chip Stephens. Audited courses include the Scott Smalley orchestration seminar and Berklee Online. He also enjoys crashing eager musicians with his pedagogy Crash Music Theory.“My father taught me the theme to Superman, note-by-note on an old upright… When I go to the bank, I deposit a check remembering my account number with a diatonic melody… I stayed rent-free for a week in a Boston mansion by moving the owners with a street performance of Hallelujah, with a perfect stranger… As my college advisor liked to say, ‘You don’t get a degree in music- you get a life in it.’

Russell likes dogs, billiard tables, Bitcoin, film-making, handstand competitions, the occasional cocktail, and social experiments.


For future events and contact, follow fb.com/therussellgates.

Pianist Russell Gates