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Our Conductor

Dr. James Richards

Dr. James Richards

Dr. James Richards

The 2014 season marks James Richards thirteenth year as conductor of the Gateway Festival Orchestra. Dr. Richards holds the position of professor of music and Sr. Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He also chaired the UMSL Department of Music for six years and has served the University a variety of other leadership roles. 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 Conductor’s Program of the Aspen Music Festival.

In addition to conducting the University Orchestra and Gateway Festival Orchestra, Dr. Richards served as conductor of the Saint Louis Chamber Orchestra for ten years, as conductor of the Kirkwood Symphony Orchestra for nineteen seasons, and as 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 guest appearances on the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Discovery Series, and has recorded 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 also has served the American String Teachers Association at the state and national levels in a variety of capacities and was President of the Missouri Chapter of the ASTA. In 2014, Dr. Richards was named a commission peer reviewer by the High Learning Commission. He has been a reviewer of new string literature for the American String Teacher 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, the Fox Theatre Orchestra, the Dance St. Louis Orchestra, the St. Louis 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 the MoASTA, and the 2009 Faculty Excellence Award from the UMSL College of Fine Arts and Communication.