Much like the clichéd thespian who has only ever wanted to direct, I knew I would always conduct choirs. It seems to be the most direct way of fusing my two other passions for teaching and singing and I try to encourage my singers to learn about their own voices whilst performing music with utmost conviction, communication and accuracy. It did, however, take me a while to find my proverbial baton.

Although I spent a lot of time directing consort groups and sectionals on the Eton Choral Courses, it was not until my last year in Cambridge that I conducted a whole concert. Since then I have had the fortune to work with a number of choirs, both large and small, on a huge variety of repertoire; I have worked with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on a programme of his children’s music, helped the Reading Phoenix Choir prepare Dream of Gerontius, assisted on a workshop weekend learning Tallis’ 40-part motet Spem In Alium with the Milton Keynes Chorale and conducted my own choir, Yateley Choral Society, in their performance of Bach’s St John Passion, a concert given in the original language, accompanied by period instrumentalists and featuring some of the country’s finest Bach singers.

In all these endeavours, three questions drive my direction: is every singer singing to the best of their ability? is the narrative of the work clear to the audience? is this an enriching experience for both performer and listener? I was once told to remember that at any concert someone is witnessing the music for the first time and someone is enjoying it for the last. This is a sentiment I hold dear when conducting.

“One of Richard’s strengths is that he challenges us not only to sing the right notes, but to consider the overall sound that we make as a choir, placing great emphasis on our technique and dynamics and thus ensuring that we bring our choral music to life and convey its meaning and inspiration. He challenges us to strive for a higher quality of performance, and puts together concert programmes that have brought out the best in our un-auditioned choir. Well-organised rehearsals are led with wit, flair and energy, and we are delighted to have such a talented performer leading our choir.”
Sarah Quarterman
Chairman, Yateley Choral Society