Cello Studio

Achieve the highest level of musical excellence as a cellist at The Southern Miss cellists studio, formed by an international community of musicians that includes students from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, and Peru. The studio offerings include: 

  • Weekly individual lessons provide guidance for establishing a strong and healthy technical foundation, help students to cultivate a sense of stylistic awareness and develop an ability to critically analyze their own performance. The release of physical tension and the development of a stress-free approach to the instrument are given priority on the first stage of the instruction. Subsequently, the students are encouraged to explore the vast realm of interpretation and to discover multiple ways of expressing their musical ideas. 
  • The Cello Recital class meets every Thursday throughout the academic year. It is designed to be a forum where the students perform, discuss their current repertoire and play in a cello choir. Additionally, this class is used as an opportunity to develop basic skills in the area of cello pedagogy. 
  • Orchestra Repertoire class is a detailed study of the most essential excerpts from the orchestral cello literature. The course culminates in a screened mock audition played for the string faculty panel in the end of the semester. 
  • Instrumental Literature class is designed for music performance and education sophomores and seniors who already possess a basic knowledge of the standard string repertoire. The main emphasis is placed on the analysis of the style periods, genres and individual works that can be regarded as critically important in the history of the instruments of the violin family.



 Alexander Russakovsky

Alexander Russakovsky

Email: alexander.russakovsky@usm.edu
Phone: (601)-266-6851



Performance Opportunities 

  • The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, directed by Dr. Michael Miles, is an excellent college orchestra with a busy performing schedule. In addition to learning the standard orchestral literature, orchestra members often have an opportunity to play with such superstars of the musical world as Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Itzhak Perlman, James Galway and Placido Domingo. 
  • Biannual USM Cello Festivals, as well as frequent guest artist recitals and master classes give the Southern Miss students a chance to enjoy the performance and the opinion of the best in the field. 
  • William T. Gower Concerto Competition is open to all string, voice and piano majors every other year. The winners appear as soloists with The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra in the Future Stars concert in Bennett Auditorium. 
  • MMTA and MTNA String Competitions provide performing opportunities for college students on the state, division and national levels.  
  • Chamber music ensembles are formed in the beginning of each semester. The string faculty members serve as coaches and prepare the groups for the Marathon Concerts. The best ensembles are then selected to perform in the Honors Chamber Music Recital which serves as the final round of the USM string chamber music competition.  
  • Additional performing experience and supplemental income are available off-campus as well. Many of the Southern Miss string students are contracted to play with regional orchestras such as the Mississippi Symphony, the Mobile Symphony, the Gulf Coast Symphony, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra or the Meridian Symphony Orchestra. Students also get frequently called for the local events in the Hattiesburg and Laurel areas. 



Degrees in cello performance and music education offered by The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music:

  • Bachelor of Music
  • Master of Music
  • Doctor of Musical Arts

Click here for more information about music degrees is available at Southern Miss.

Financial Aid

A considerable number of scholarships are awarded by the School of Music every year. The amount of the award depends on your financial needs and audition results. If your audition is approved by the string faculty, you will be asked to submit other application materials, such as your academic transcripts, ACT/GRE and TOEFL (for international students) scores and application fee. Once your file is complete, we will send you a letter specifying your scholarship award (typically, the scholarship decisions are made in mid-April).

Financial Aid
Office of Admissions
International Admissions


English Proficiency

International students who hadn’t been able to pass the TOEFL exam prior to their arrival in the US can take advantage of a preparatory course at The University of Southern Mississippi English Language Institute. During this period, they will perform with the Symphony Orchestra and enjoy weekly cello lessons.

Minimum TOEFL Scores:
Paper Exam - 525
Computer based - 197
Internet Based Test – 71   

English Language Institute


Audition Information 

All applicants are encouraged to visit The University of Southern Mississippi campus and audition in personWhile visiting the campus, you are welcome to observe orchestra rehearsals and chamber musiccoachings, or sit in the cello recital class. If you wish, you can also schedule a complimentary lesson with Dr. Russakovsky. 

In case you cannot audition in person, you may send a video recording. Audition requirements include the following:  

          1.  A concerto or sonata movement  

          2.  Two contrasting movements of unaccompanied Bach  

          3.  An etude or a concert piece 


Also, submit a full resumé (listing your complete activities as a musician, including awards). Please indicate the degree you wish to apply for and your age. 

Should you have any questions, please contact Dr. Russakovsky.