Musical Director

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 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. Richard now returns regularly to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire as a competition adjudicator and external examiner.

Richard regularly prepares choirs for the nation’s top orchestras and for conductors such as Sir Mark Elder, Cristian Mandeal and Gergely Madaras. For the Hallé he has prepared Alexander Nevsky, The Music Makers, The Planets, Belshazzar’s Feast and Poulenc’s Gloria and undertaken off-stage conducting and pre-concert talks; for the BBC Symphony Orchestra has has prepared Carmina Burana.

Recent conducting 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 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 frequently leads orchestral and choral workshops around the UK.

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. He is a core player of the Orchestra of the Swan, a guest Principal with the English Symphony Orchestra, and freelances with 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.

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 and reviews are regularly published in The Wagner Journal and Wagner News. He has recently been awarded the Open University’s Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science, achieving a distinction in every exam. Richard’s hobbies include collecting first editions of the novels of Daphne du Maurier and Nevil Shute, 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 twelve year-old daughter Elsa.


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