Facebook Twitter YouTube
Home Meet the Orchestra Our Conductor

Our Conductor

Dr. James Richards

Dr. James Richards

Dr. James Richards

Conductor of the Gateway Festival Orchestra

The 2018 season marks James Richards’s seventeenth year as conductor of the Gateway Festival Orchestra. Dr. Richards holds the position of Founders Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he chaired the UMSL Department of Music for six years and served in a variety of leadership roles in the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the School for Fine and Performing Arts. He is currently Specialist in Orchestra and Strings for ECS Publishing Group.

Dr. Richards holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester and degrees in orchestral conducting and music theory as well as a Performer’s Certificate in Violin from the University of Texas at Austin. He studied orchestral and opera conducting with Walter Ducloux, Paul Vermel and Gustav Meier; theory and composition with Joseph Schwantner, David Beach, Robert Gauldin, Kent Kennan and Karl Korte, and was selected to participate in the conducting program of the Aspen Music Festival.

In addition to conducting the University Orchestra and the Gateway Festival Orchestra, Dr. Richards served as conductor of the Saint Louis Chamber Orchestra for ten years, conductor of the Kirkwood Symphony Orchestra for nineteen seasons and associate conductor of the Kammergild Chamber Orchestra. He has appeared frequently as a guest conductor and clinician for symphonic band and orchestra festivals throughout the United States, including numerous appearances on the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Discovery Series, for Dance St. Louis collaborative performances of Carmina Burana with the Nashville Ballet, and for recordings on the MSR Classics label. In June, 2009, Dr. Richards conducted the New York premiere of the music theatre work, Booth! by Harbach, Coker and Yordy at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr. Richards is past president of the Missouri Association of Departments and Schools of Music (MADSM). He has also served the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) at the state and national levels in a variety of capacities and was president of the Missouri Chapter of ASTA (MoASTA). He has been a reviewer of new string literature for the ASTA Journal and served for three years as national chair of the ASTA Merle J. Isaac Composition Competition.

As a violinist, Dr. Richards has performed with numerous professional ensembles including the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, the Kammergild Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis Bach Society Orchestra, Fox Theatre Orchestra, Dance St. Louis Orchestra, The MUNY Orchestra, and the Landolfi String Quartet. In 1999, Dr. Richards received a UM Research Board Grant to study Baroque violin performance at the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute. Dr. Richards is a recipient of the St. Louis Suburban Music Educators Association’s Merit Award “In recognition of significant contributions for the advancement of music education,” the Artist/Teacher of the Year Award from MoASTA, and the 2009 Faculty Excellence Award from the UMSL College of Fine Arts and Communication.