Biography

Richard Blake is a multi-faceted musician with passions for classical, jazz and rock music. As a composer, arranger and performer, Richard is building a busy freelance career.

Richard was first introduced to music by his parents, his father was Principal Horn in the Ulster Orchestra for over 30 years, and he received his first piano lessons at the age of 5 from his mother. He became a chorister in the choir of St Georges Parish Church and nurtured his love of music while studying at Methodist College Belfast and the City of Belfast School of Music. In 2011 Richard completed a BA in Music at the University of York, where he was awarded the Ed Burrell Prize for Performance, and the Blake Prize for orchestral studies.

As an orchestral musician, Richard performs regularly with various Academy ensembles, as well as with the University of London Symphony Orchestra. He has played Principal Trumpet under the baton of distinguished conductors such as Sir Colin Davis, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and Sir Mark Elder. Highlights from the past year include playing in the Olympic Park, King’s Place, the Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s, and live on Radio 3. He has performed with the BBC Singers and St James Baroque, the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, and for a month’s residency in Paris, the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

As a soloist, Richard has performed both solo recitals and with ensembles, from singing the treble solo from The Snowman with the Ulster Orchestra at the age of 12 to playing Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 trumpets with the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra, and as an unaccompanied trumpet soloist in the Huddersfield Music Festival. In 2010, Richard performed Arutjunjan’s Trumpet Concerto with the University of York Symphony Orchestra in the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, and Bach’s Cantata 51 with the University Baroque Ensemble at the National Centre for Early Music. He has since returned to York to perform Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in York Minster. Recently Richard has also appeared with the Royal Academy of Music Period Instrument Baroque Ensemble as trumpet soloist in Bach’s Cantata 147 as part of the Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata Series.

As a jazz player, Richard has been lead trumpet and soloist with the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra and University of York Jazz Orchestra, performing with Kenny Wheeler, Julian Arguelles, Martin France and John Taylor. At the Royal Academy he has played lead and section trumpet with the Academy Big Band, and has been lead trumpet for every Musical Theatre production during his time there. Richard played lead trumpet in the Southwark Playhouse production of Mack and Mabel, which has been nominated for Best Musical in the London Evening Standard Awards.

Richard is also in demand as an arranger and orchestrator, highlights include working with the Det Norske Blåseensemble on an arrangement of Handel’s Dixit Dominus for their summer solstice concert, and orchestration for an Ulster Orchestra education project with the charity RiCh Music.

He has a wide body of work for brass quintet, and was commissioned to arrange a suite of Kraftwerk for Orbit Brass as part of the Exhibition Road Festival as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Richard has been involved in a number of other projects, including playing with Candice Gordon at Bestival, and recording on the Justice Collective’s single He Ain’t Heavy featuring Paul McCartney and Robbie Williams. This record became the Christmas Number 1 Single of 2012.

He is currently based in London, where he is in his final year of postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of Paul Beniston, Robert Farley, Rod Franks and Mark David. He is honored to be supported in his studies by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

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