LaGrange Symphony Orchestra
LSO Announces New Music Director and Conductor
On Friday, February 27, 2015, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra President, Gary Mayer, proudly announced the appointment of Dr. Richard Prior as the Conductor and Music Director of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Prior’s initial contract with the LSO spans a full three (3) seasons, effective July, 1, 2015.
Prior’s dynamic presence as Guest Conductor in the LSO’s October 2014 concert won praise from concert goers and orchestra members alike. Prior will also appear as Guest Conductor at this season’s finale in April.
Award-winning conductor and acclaimed composer Richard Prior holds the Edward Goodwin Scruggs Conducting Chair at Emory University. As Director of Orchestral Studies, he conducts both the Emory University Symphony Orchestra and Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra in addition to being the senior lecturer in composition. Prior had been the Music Director of the Rome Symphony Orchestra since 2008, where he held the Georgia Power Conducting Chair.
In demand as a guest conductor, Prior has led performances with members of the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Montreal Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and New Orleans Civic Symphony. Internationally, he has also appeared with the National Symphony of Ukraine, the Odessa Philharmonic and the Cairo National Symphony. Conducting engagements for the 2014-2015 season have included performances in Maryland, Oklahoma, Iowa, Sweden and Ukraine.
Prior has worked with a range of distinguished soloists including sopranos Silvia McNair and Yulia Van Doren, cellist Matt Haimovitz, violinists David Kim, Katherine Wolfe and Sinisa Ciric, pianists William Ransom and James Swisher, oboist Joseph Robinson, clarinetist Ashraf Attalla, jazz saxophonist Victor Goines and vocal sensation Janelle Monae.
Reviews in the professional press cite his “stirring conviction,” “precision,” and “stylishness and flexibility,” with the noted “meteoric rise” of ensembles under his direction. Prior’s mentors and principal teachers include Sir Simon Rattle, James Paul and William LaRue Jones.
From music written as a child and presented in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II to his professional debut in 1988 at London’s Westminster Abbey, Richard Prior’s music has been performed, recorded, and broadcast widely in Europe and North America. Recent premieres have included String Quartets No. 1 and 2 with the Vega Quartet, The Darkening Land with clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman and the Pulitzer-nominated choral-orchestral work Stabat Mater, the subject of a 2009 PBS broadcast.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Robert Spano commissioned …of shadow and light… (incantations for orchestra) which premiered in October, 2013. Subsequent critical review called the work “forbidding and dramatic, stunning” and “jubilant and exuberant”; the piece identified Prior as “perhaps the most gifted of the Atlanta composers” citing his mastery of orchestration, lyricism and musical drama. Robert Spano, quoted in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, said of this work: “Richard wrote us a fantastic piece last season, and, as with many of our family of composers, we wanted to follow up this season with more of his music. His music is so powerful, dramatic and colorful, that it has an immediate impact. But living with it over time, it grows deeper and richer.”
The ASO went on to present three performances of his Symphony No. 3 in November 2014 under the direction of Robert Spano, a work also featured at the finale of Northwestern University’s 2013-2014 Season with Victor Yampolsky and the season finale of the Cairo Symphony in Egypt with the composer conducting. Reviews from the Chicago/Midwest premiere called Prior “a symphonic sorcerer.”
Born in England, Prior received his Bachelor Degree in Music (Composition and Vocal Performance) from the University of Leeds and received a Doctorate in Orchestral Conducting & Composition from the University of Nottingham. He has taught at Davidson College, Southeastern Louisiana University and Oklahoma State University and been a Fellow-In-Music at Oxford University, U.K.
A winner of numerous awards for his compositions and conducting, Prior received the 2008 Harvey Philips Award for Excellence in Composition at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the 2009 Emory University Winship Senior Faculty Award and the 2011 Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. His choral-orchestral work hymn for nations united received Awards of Merit in two categories (Symphonic Music and Composition) in the 2013 Global Music Awards.