Richard James is a composer, pianist and teacher as well as an examiner for ABRSM. He grew up in Lowestoft in Suffolk, in earshot of the waves breaking on the beach and has always felt a first-hand understanding of and love for the music of Benjamin Britten. As a boy, he played in the first performance of Britten’s ‘Welcome Ode’ Op. 96, his last completed work, which was performed for the Queen in 1977.
He was educated in Lowestoft and Norwich before continuing his musical studies at the Royal College of Music from 1977-1981, studying with Anthony Milner, Richard Popplewell, Alasdair Graham (piano) and Norman Del Mar (conducting). At the RCM he was awarded the Sir Adrian Scholarship Conducting Prize in 1980 and 1981. During his time at the College he was invited to conduct the first performance of a work by Gordon Jacob.
His career has largely been in education: Assistant Director of Music, Director of Music, House Master, Deputy Head and then Headmaster for the last nine years at St Mary’s School Shaftesbury, during which time composing and performing were fitted around other responsibilities. As from January 2016 he has worked as a freelance musician.
Richard started composing at the age of ten. The body of his work, regularly performed, is choral, mostly sacred motets. He has also written two musicals for schools and song cycles as well as secular solo songs and instrumental pieces. He gives piano recitals and particularly enjoys working as an accompanist with singers.
He is married to Becca, an artist and has three children. His eldest son is a pilot; his second is studying Wine Business at university and his daughter is taking A-Levels this term and will be studying Psychology at university.