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Spotlight Sunday Feature - Paul Richards

Happy Spotlight Sunday! We are only a few weeks away from our 8th annual New in November Festival. Today we are proud to introduce composer, Paul Richards. Paul is the composer of The Loathly Lady which will be featured at NIN8 on 11/18. We hope you enjoy learning more about Paul and what Opera Without Borders means to him.

There is still time to purchase tickets for New in November! Please visit our website for more information about this exciting event.

Born in New York City in 1969 to a musical family, composer Paul Richards has been engaged with music since childhood, including forays into various popular styles, the Western canon, and Jewish sacred and secular music through his father, a cantor. All of these experiences inform his creative activities, which have included numerous orchestral, vocal, chamber, and theatrical works, including two full-length operas. Hailed in the press as a composer with “a strong, pure melodic gift, an ear for color, and an appreciation for contrast and variety,” and praised for his “fresh approach to movement and beautiful orchestral coloration,” his works have been heard in performance throughout the country and internationally on six continents.

He has been recognized in numerous competitions, winning the St. Mary’s College/Kaplan Foundation Commission Competition, the Columbia Summer Winds Outdoor Composition Contest, the Flute New Music Consortium Composition Competition, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s Fresh Ink Florida Composers’ Competition, the International Section of the New Music for Sligo/IMRO Composition Award and the Truman State University/M.A.C.R.O. Composition Competitions. Other honors and awards include Special Distinction in the ASCAP Rudolph Nissim Prize, Finalist in the American Composers Orchestra Whitaker Reading Sessions, Second Prize in the International Horn Society Composition Competition, First Place in the Voices of Change Composers Competition, two First Place prizes in the Guild of Temple Musicians Young Composers Award, and many others.

Commissions have come from organizations including the Boston Brass, the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Florida State Music Teachers’ Association and Music Teacher’s National Association, Duo 46, Sonoran Consort, Meet the Composer-Arizona, Arizona Repertory Singers, Arizona Commission on the Arts and Catalina Chamber Orchestra. In addition, many university wind programs have commissioned Richards’ work, including those of Baylor, Del Mar, Florida, Illinois – Champaign/Urbana, Michigan, Nevada – Las Vegas, North Carolina – Greensboro, Northern Iowa, Syracuse and Truman State.

Richards’ theatrical work has included music for dance, plays, film, and two full-length comic operas. “The Loathly Lady” premiered at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, with Julianne Baird, Thomas Meglioranza, members of Anonymous 4, and a mixed ensemble of period and modern instruments, relating an updated version of Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath’s Tale” in which a knight travels through time, meeting iconic characters in an effort to answer the question, “what do women want most?” “Biennale” premiered at the Barnes Foundation in 2013 with support from the Mellon Foundation and the Penn Humanities Forum, and a cast including Naomi O’Connell, Christopher Burchett, Caroline Worra, and Jesse Blumberg. Set in Vienna at the world’s largest contemporary art festival, it relates a woman’s encounter with an art installation, and its artist, in a life-changing moment of self-realization.

Music by Paul Richards is recorded on the Meyer Media, Capstone, Mark, Summit, MMC, Raven, and Pavane labels, and his works are published by Carl Fischer Music, TrevCo Music, Jéanne Inc., the International Horn Society Press, and Margalit Music. Currently Research Foundation Professor of Music and head of composition and theory at the University of Florida, where he has been on the faculty since 1999, he served as Visiting Professor at Florida State University in 2016, and previously taught at Baylor University. Richards earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition at the University of Texas at Austin, and Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Theory and Composition at the University of Arizona.

Here's what Paul Richards had to say about Opera Without Borders:

Composers today operate in a unique environment where access to all musics, throughout time and location, is instantaneous. I cannot help but be pulled by so much of what is happening now, all around the world, and what has happened in our past. As an opera composer, these multitudes beg for work that isn't bound by conventions, or borders. Many dichotomies are irrelevant (old/new, high/low, comedy/tragedy) and we can make work that tries to speak to the human condition, using particulars to try to get at generalities, to the ideas, emotions, experiences that anyone can access.

Hartford Opera Theater would like to thank Paul for sharing his story with us! To learn more about Paul, please visit his website at:

We hope to see you at New in November 8 on Saturday, November 18 at 7:30pm in Hartford!

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