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RICHARD HILL - A MUSICAL ADVENTURE

 

Born: Renfrew, Scotland. August 22, 1942.

Education: Mitcham County Grammar School for Boys; Royal College of Music, London.

PLAYER

Richard Hill's musical career began when he won a Foundation Open Scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London at the age of 17. There he studied under Morris Smith [trombone], Millicent Silver [piano & harpsichord], Philip Cannon [composition] and under the world-renowned English conductor, Sir Adrian Boult.

At the RCM Richard became a founder member of the London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble. He also started his own rock band [with minor chart success] and played professional jazz with the Dave Keir Jazz Band.

After leaving the RCM Richard played in a number of symphony orchestras on a freelance basis including the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia amongst others.

The orchestral experience gained under such conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Georg Solti, Leonard Bernstein and Rudolf Schwarz was broadened by playing Duke Ellington's music, under Billy Strayhorn, in a production of Shakespeare's 'Timon of Athens'.

With an already developed interest in jazz and rock, Richard's career underwent a sea change when he was asked to join Polydor Records as a producer and studio arranger at the height of the sixties. He stopped playing and began to compose.

COMPOSER

The opportunity to work in the music industry during such an exciting period led on to a career as a media composer and studio arranger in recording, television, film and theatre. Film scores included 'To Kill a Clown' starring Alan Alda and 'Baffled' starring Susan Hampshire and Leonard Nimoy.

In television, as well as writing many programme themes for BBC, ATV and TVS, plus station promos and advertising jingles, scores for major TV drama series included Arnold Bennett's 'Clayhanger' trilogy starring Janet Suzman, John Mortimer's 'Will Shakespeare' starring Tim Curry and Don Shaw's 'Sounding Brass' starring Brian Glover.

Throughout this period Richard enjoyed worldwide success as co-writer, with Prof. Nevill Coghill, Martin Starkie and John Hawkins, of the musical based on Chaucer's 'The Canterbury Tales', which ran for over 5 years in the West End and became a Broadway production for Frank Loesser, before embarking on two tours of the USA. 'The Canterbury Tales' enjoyed major productions all over the world, but particularly in Australia, South Africa and Germany as well as in many other European countries - and a small, touring version is still performed today.

PRODUCER

As a producer, other, widely varied musical adventures coloured Richard's career, including his production of contemporary composer Cornelius Cardew's legendary avant garde work for the Scratch Orchestra 'The Great Learning', on the Deutsche Gramophon label.

A collaboration with the Choral Scholars of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge led to the successful formation of the Polydor recording group 'The Gentle Power of Song' led by Marcus Bicknell. With them, Richard produced and orchestrated the classic poetry and music Christmas album 'Peace', since reissued as 'The Holly and the Ivy' on DGG - and the beautifully conceived album 'Circus' from which came the single 'Constant Penelope' , which became somewhat of a cult production on the Internet. The GPoS were much influenced by the Beach Boys, Mamas and Papas and other West Coast vocal folk rock bands.

From 'California Dreamin' then, to Sussex in England, where Richard became fascinated by the folk music of 'The Amazing Catsfield Steamers', producing the folk charting album 'United Friends' as well as the highly popular, television oriented chart album 'Songs of Joy' with the choir of the Pestalozzi International Children's Village, who went on, under Richard's leadership, to enjoy Number 1 chart success on Paul McCartney's single 'Pipes of Peace'.

CURRENT COMPOSITIONS and PROJECTS.

The influence of such a wide spectrum of musical experience, underpinned by a classical training, shines through Richard's current cross over compositions for concert hall and theatre, which have attracted such generous reviews.

In his world of sound, jazz musicians naturally integrate with symphony orchestras, lieder singers perform to synthesizer tracks, actors narrate poetry to music and the arts of visual imagery and drama are never far away. The 'Symphony of Jazz' orchestral concert series with Chris Barber's Jazz Band [performing over 50 concerts around Europe], 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' music drama [a setting of Coleridge's epic poem, nationally acclaimed at the Edinburgh Festival] and the ballet/concert work with narration by Ben Kingsley 'Images from Kubla Khan' [now released, conducted by the composer and after stunning reviews, as a digital download album on the Academy Recordings label], all reflect the accessible and original style which defines Richard Hill's contemporary music. As a performer, his new download album 'Baroque Sounds', also released on AR, demonstrates his ability to combine musically sensitive performances of baroque classics with the capabilities of the modern music synthesizer.

In recent years Richard has added to his outlets for artistic expression by creating digital art. You might like to enjoy the fruits of these labours by visiting the relevant page on our site.

 

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