Richard Laing – Music Director
Richard Laing is a conductor, violinist and writer of remarkable versatility. He is sought after as a conductor of opera, ballet and orchestral concerts, and is one of the the UK’s foremost choral directors. In an age of increasing specialisation, Richard is a true polymath, bringing a wide range of knowledge and influences to his music-making.
Richard is Music Director of Nottingham Harmonic Choir, Somerset Chamber Choir, Leicester Bach Choir, Bach Camerata and Leamington Chamber Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, and Associate Conductor of Chandos Symphony Orchestra. Richard was the first Conducting Scholar at Birmingham Conservatoire, where after nine months of study he was awarded his Masters Degree, a Postgraduate Diploma, and the Postgraduate Prize for the most outstanding contribution to the musical life of the college. Immediately thereafter he was supported by the Foyle Foundation to work intensively on operatic conducting at Dartington with Diego Masson, and appointed to the post of Associate Conductor with the virtuoso young ensemble Sinfonia Cymru. Recent highlights include Britten’s War Requiem in Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall, Bach’s St John Passion with James Gilchrist in Wells Cathedral, and his debut with the Orchestra of the Swan.
Richard regularly prepares choirs for the nation’s top orchestras and for conductors such as Sir Mark Elder and Cristian Mandeal. For the Hallé he has prepared Alexander Nevsky, The Music Makers, The Planets, Poulenc’s Gloria and Belshazzar’s Feast and undertaken off-stage conducting and pre-concert talks; for the BBC Symphony Orchestra has has prepared Carmina Burana.
Richard’s has collaborated with a diverse range of cross-over artists, including Alfie Boe, Tim Minchin and Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction. He has premiered dozens of new works including works by Paul Patterson, Deborah Pritchard and Bernd Redmann, and is in great demand as an adjudicator and coach, and as a leader of orchestral and choral workshops around the UK. He is a competition adjudicator and external examiner at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
Prior to taking up the baton Richard studied violin and chamber music at the University of Illinois with Peter Schaffer and Michael McClelland, and violin at the Royal Northern College of Music with Richard Ireland. Richard is a core player of the Orchestra of the Swan, and freelances with English Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Covent Garden Sinfonia, Southern Sinfonia, Welsh Chamber Orchestra, Longborough Opera and Orchestra da Camera. Among the orchestras with whom he has appeared as guest leader are Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia of Birmingham, Queen’s Park Sinfonia, Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra, Chandos Symphony Orchestra and the Forest Philharmonic. A keen and active chamber musician, Richard’s chamber music partners include David Le Page, Cordula Kempe and Eduardo Vassallo.
In his limited spare time Richard pursues a wide range of academic interests. His undergraduate work in Manchester on John F. Kennedy’s policy in Vietnam won him the Kaiser Award for American History. He he has presented papers on subjects as diverse as apocalyptic cinema, M.C. Escher and reality TV at the International Conferences on Film and Literature at Florida State University, and on Wagner’s Ring cycle at the International Wagner Symposium at the University of Adelaide. His articles are regularly published in The Wagner Journal and Wagner News. His current research interests include diegetic classical music in film, the US President as depicted in Hollywood film, and Working Memory span in conductors and pianists. Richard’s hobbies include collecting first editions of the novels of Daphne du Maurier, writing fiction inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, M.R. James and the Cornish coast, and running the occasional half marathon in aid of the wonderful fundraising group Team Bex. Among his proudest achievements are being appointed Vice President of the University of Illinois Triathlon Club and having articles published in the iconic games magazine White Dwarf. Richard is married to the singer and psychologist Karen Wise, Research Fellow at Guildhall School of Music and Drama; they live in Huntingdon with their ten year-old daughter Elsa.
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