Quoted at the Black Dyke Brass Arts Festival, the internationally acclaimed maestro Elgar Howarth described Richard as “the most outstanding cornet player this country has ever produced.”
Richard is currently Principal Cornet of the world famous Black Dyke Band, a position that is heralded as the “hottest seat in banding.” Richard fulfilled his childhood ambition and followed in the footsteps of some of his cornet heroes and moved to the Queensbury based band in January 2006.
Richard has released to date four solo recordings, The Debutante (1999), Blaze (2005), Eminence (2007) and The Cornet Heritage Collection Volume 1 (2010) all of which have been received with world-wide acclaim.
As a performer Richard has travelled throughout the world performing in many iconic concert venues such as Sydney Opera House and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Richard is a dedicated musician, whose sensational performances continue to thrill audiences world-wide.
1. How old were you when you started playing Cornet?
I was nine years old. My teacher was a well respected teacher and conductor in my local area, Mr Ken Johnson. He also conducted my first band, Hatfield Colliery, where I played 3rd cornet.
2. What made you choose Cornet rather than any other instrument?
Funny enough, I actually started on flugel horn which my dad played. I started on cornet after a couple of weeks of playing the flugel and the rest is history!
3. How old were you when you won your first trophy and which one was it?
Can’t remember my first trophy, but I remember being given a medal, because my dad had one for winning a band contest with Hatfield. I played a grade 3 solo in the winning bands concert.
4. Which Brass Bands did you play in prior to joining Black Dyke?
Hatfield Colliery, Askern Colliery, Wallace Arnold (Rothwell), Stocksbridge, Grimethorpe and now Black Dyke.
5. What has been your most enjoyable moment as a brass musician to date?
I have too many to mention, but five spring to mind! The first has to be my only British Open win to date. This was in 2006 and was my first British Open with Black Dyke. Premiering the tremendously difficult “Blaze” by Phil Lawrence at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester in 2005. Thirdly, back to back National Championships with Black Dyke in 2008 and 2009. Having a brand new commission by Elgar Howarth written for me in 2008. This was performed at the Black Dyke Arts Festival in Leeds. And last but not least, accompanying the fabulous Australian multi-instrumentalist James Morrison, during Black Dyke’s 2009 Australian tour.
6. What is your favourite venue to play in and why?
I love Sydney in Australia, and I have played the Opera House twice. Put both the Opera House and Sydney Harbour together, you can’t get much better! Other great venues include Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Barbican Centre, London.
7. How much practice do you do each day?
I practice one hour every day. My practice session is always mapped out and no stone goes unturned.
8. Who has been your biggest influence to date in your playing and teaching career?
Definately my teacher, Ken Johnson and my family. As for my teaching career, you develop your own style and my influences are the many fine conductors and performers I have worked with.
9. What is the most valuable lesson you have been taught as a musician?
Always be prepared and one step ahead!
10. Which do you find most rewarding: playing with Black Dyke; playing solo; or teaching?
Playing with Black Dyke in the “best seat” is fantastic and a dream come true and it’s always pleasing when people enjoy your solo playing and you can’t beat that “buzz”. Probably the most rewarding would have to be teaching. Seeing a student of yours work hard and get the rewards he or she deserve is a good feeling.
11. What aspects of brass playing do you teach your students to focus on the most?
The Basics!! You should always keep on top of the essential elements. Practice the things you find difficult and perform the things you can do!
12. Do you play any other instruments other than Cornet?
I occasionally play the odd trumpet solo, such as People, Blessed Assurance and Virtuosity, with bands.
13. What advice would you give young brass musicians who want to make a full time career from music?
Work hard and get as much performing experience as you can. Enjoy what you do and have a good attitude.
14. What are your ambitions as a brass musician?
My ambitions are to personally keep improving my performance standards and enjoy!
15. Which other brass musicians do you admire the most and why?
The list of cornet / trumpet players that I admire is endless, but the musicians, not always brass, that I admire are the ones that have good attitudes and accompany this with fantastic musicianship.