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Richard Laing - Director of Music

Richard Laing enjoys the rare distinction of having been invited back to conduct again every ensemble with whom he has ever performed, without exception. He is Music Director of the Midland Sinfonia, the Bach Camerata, Nottingham Harmonic Choir and the Leicester Bach Choir; Artistic Director of the Leamington Chamber Orchestra; Principal Guest Conductor of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Associate Conductor of Chandos Symphony Orchestra, and a frequent guest conductor at Birmingham Conservatoire and with Sinfonia ViVA, Queen's Park Sinfonia, Hallam Sinfonia and Sinfonia of Birmingham, as well as with youth orchestras all across the UK and in France. Richard was the founding Music Director of the Birmingham-based opera company Operamus, and is now its Patron. He 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's operatic work has included Albert Herring, Hansel and Gretel and Noye's Fludde (Operamus), La Traviata and La Bohème (Dartington Festival Opera), The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Malcolm Williamson's English Eccentrics (Birmingham Conservatoire), Adrian Cruft's Dr Syn (Kent Opera) and Handel's Orlando (Pigotts). He has collaborated with some of the world's finest instrumentalists and singers, including principal players from the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre Symphonique de Montré,al, Dresden Staatskapelle, Amsterdam Baroque, Munich Philharmonic, CBSO and RLPO, as well as Brigitte Engerer, Emily Pailthorpe, Robert Plane, Anthony Halstead, Robert Hayward, Neil Jenkins, Peter Wedd, John Turner, Alan Hacker, Peter Auty, Joanne Lunn, Adrian Bradbury and Richard Jenkinson. He has a close working relationship with some of the brightest young stars of the classical music world, including Oliver Coates, Callum Smart, Alec Frank-Gemmill, Leonard Schreiber, Matthew Jones, Mikhel Poll, April Fredrick and Di Xiao, and has collaborated with a diverse range of cross-over artists, including Alfie Boe, Tim Minchin and Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction. Richard has premiered dozens of new works including works by Paul Patterson 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.

As a Chorus Master Richard has prepared choirs for the Hallé, the Rinaldo Consort, sinfonia ViVA and the National Children’s Orchestra, for conductors such as Cristian Mandeal and Sir Mark Elder. Future work includes choral preparation of Carmina Burana for the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Prior to taking up the baton Richard studied violin at the University of Illinois with Peter Schaffer and at the Royal Northern College of Music with Richard Ireland. He continues to play as a guest leader for Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia of Birmingham, Queen's Park Sinfonia, Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra, Chandos Symphony Orchestra and the Forest Philharmonic, as well as freelancing with the Orchestra of the Swan, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Southern Sinfonia, Welsh Chamber Orchestra, Longborough Opera and Orchestra da Camera. 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. 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 Associate at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and a lecturer at the RNCM; they live in Huntingdon with their 6 year-old daughter.



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