Richard Laing is Music Director of Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, Nottingham Harmonic Choir, Bach Camerata, Cambridgeshire Choral Society, Leamington Chamber Orchestra and the Leicester Bach Choir, Principal Guest Conductor of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra and Hallam Sinfonia, 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’s operatic work has included The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Malcolm Williamson’s English Eccentrics (Birmingham Conservatoire), La Traviata and La Bohème (Dartington Festival Opera), Albert Herring, Hansel and Gretel and Noye’s Fludde (Operamus), 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 Montréal, 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, Marcus Farnsworth 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 regularly prepares choirs for Britain’s top orchestras. He has prepared Alexander Nevsky, The Music Makers and The Planets for the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder and Cristian Mandeal, and Carmina Burana for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Future work includes choral preparation of Belshazzar’s Feast for the Hallé and off-stage conducting of The Planets for the Philharmonia.
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. 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. Richard freelances, often as a principal player, with the Orchestra of the Swan, English Symphony Orchestra, 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. 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 seven year-old daughter Elsa.