Richard was Director of Music at the International School of Turin from 1989 to 1991 and Director of Music at a Haberdashers' Company School from 1991 to 1997. He is at present Director of Music at Battersea Technology College, an inner city comprehensive, a career move inspired in part by his desire to work away from selective education. He regularly performs as a baritone and took part as Riensei in the first performance of Brian Dennis's opera 'Atsumori'. He has also sung oratorio, solo recitals and recently performed the solo baritone part in 'Carmina Burana' (under Keith Orrell, chorus master of the Halle Chorus), and a recital at the British Music Information Centre.
Richard Churches was born in Caerleon Wales on 20th July 1966. Although neither of his parents are musicians themselves by profession they have always taken an active interest in music and his mother has sung in choral societies etc. He began singing as a chorister and then later was Head Chorister at St. Martins Parish Church. Before going to University he studied composition with Gwyn Pritchard in Bristol and at this time became interested in the music of Cornelius Cardew.
His compositional work at this time was almost entirely avant garde although at the age of 15 he took an Associate Diploma in Harmony and Counterpoint. He studied composition at Royal Holloway College (London University) with Brian Dennis while taking his Bachelor of Music degree.
His compositional style has been influenced by the Cardew school and he has rejected the avant garde in favour of a more traditional aesthetic which places the importance of communication ahead of complexity.
In 1994 he was placed third in the Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize at the Royal Academy of Music for three of his songs from 'The Whole Wide World is White', a setting of Mao Tse Tung's poetry.
The following year he was awarded a grant from the Holst Foundation to produce the compact disc 'Songs From A Jade Terrace' ADL CD1 (Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone; Nigel Foster, piano - recorded at the Royal Academy of Music). He has been published by Andresier Editions and Frontier Press, and founded the British Contemporary Music Anthology with Gerald Leach and Brian Dennis. In 1990 he contributed a chapter to the Composers' Guild of Great Britain's 'Composers in Education' project and has written two chapters for 'The Scratch Orchestra (1969-1974), A Symposium', to be published by Scolar Press.
He is a member of the Composers' Guild of Great Britain and the British Music Society and is included in the 'International Who's Who of Music and Musicians'. His musical interests are very wide and he has taught popular music and studio recording as well as having been involved in recording work himself.
He is married to the poet Jennifer Churches and has one daughter.
List of Works
- Huatzu Hill (baritone, piano) 1985
- Meng Wall Hollow (piano) 1985
- The Rapids by the Luans' (baritone, piano) 1985
- The Lady of Hsi (piano) 1985
- Seeing off Ch'en Tzu-Fu to the East of the Yangtze (baritone, piano) 1985
- Three Pieces for Guitar 1986
- The Whole Wide World is White (baritone, piano) 1986
- Concert Overture (piano concerto movement) 1987
- Meng Wall Hollow (string orchestra) 1987
- The Lady of Hsi (string orchestra) 1987
- Loushan Pass (baritone or tenor, piano) 1987
- The Fairy Cave (baritone, piano) 1987
- Four Pieces for Guitar 1987
- At Huichang (baritone, piano) 1989
- Snake Dance (piano) 1989
- Garden of the Sphinxes (piano) 1989
- Dance of the Demondim (piano) 1989
- Jig (piano) 1989
- The Purple Magnolia Tree (piano) 1990
- Autumn (piano) 1990
- May Song (piano) 1990
- Wedding-Day (piano) 1990
- Return to Shaoshan (baritone, piano) 1991, rev. 1995
- Two Harmonic Fragments (piano) 1991
- The Mill Pond at Fenin Crewi (piano) 1992
- Devil's Bridge (piano) 1992
- Clarach Cross (piano) 1992
- A Firm Ripe Apple (SATB or TTBB) 1992
- The Song of the Sibyl (piano) 1992
- Brandt (symphony orchestra) 1992
- So Love Has Failed (SATB) 1992
- Soft, Soft Sweet Grass (baritone, piano) 1993
- Broken Threads (baritone or tenor, piano) 1993
- Song of the River Bank (cello, piano) 1993
- Missa Pro Defunctis (Requiem Mass) (SATBar soloists, SATB chorus) 1994
- A Firm Ripe Apple (TTBB) 1995
- Faded Leaves (baritone, piano) 1995
- So Love Has Failed (SSAA) 1997
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