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Richard Prior's musical training began in his native England, where he received an undergraduate degree from Leeds University and a doctoral degree in both conducting and composition from Nottingham University. Prior's principal teachers include renowned conductors Sir Simon Rattle and James Paul and composers Alan Ridout, Philip Wilby and James Fulkerson. Faculty appointments have included Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Davidson College, Franklin & Marshall College, and St. Catherine's College, Oxford University where he was the 1997 Visiting Fellow in Music. His performances have been lauded in the professional press as having “stirring conviction,” “precision,” and “stylishness and flexibility,” with articles citing the “meteoric rise” of orchestras under his direction. Prior is currently Director of Orchestral Studies at Emory University where he conducts the University and Youth Symphonies and is also Music Director and Conductor of the Rome Symphony Orchestra. He holds the both the Edward Goodwin Scruggs Conducting Chair (Emory) and the Georgia Power Conducting Chair (Rome).
Prior was a selected participant in the 2001 Pierre Boulez Professional Training Workshop at Carnegie Hall and the 2002 Conductors' Workshop of America. He was the recipient of the 2003 Wise–Diggs–Berry Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in the Arts and the 2004 Golden Torch Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Leadership, and Service. In 2008, Prior won the Harvey Philips Award for Excellence in Composition, presented at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for his work diversions. He was the 2009–2010 recipient of Emory University's Winship Senior Faculty Award and the 2011 Crystal Apple Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.
In demand as an adjudicator and clinician, Prior has conducted numerous honor and all–state orchestras (including Georgia) and led a variety of professional consortiums from the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra. Prior has made guest appearances with the Charlotte Symphony, the New Orleans Civic Symphony, the Rome Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony of Ukraine and the Wilmington Community Orchestra (Delaware) among others. He holds memberships in the League of American Orchestras, the Conductors Guild, BMI, the Georgia Music Educators Association, the National Association for Music Education, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Kappa Kappa Psi. Prior is a founding member and past president of the College Orchestra Directors Association (CODA), South Central Division.
Highly active as a composer, his music has been performed, recorded, and broadcast widely in Europe and North America. He was Composer–in–Residence for the 2003 Association for Music in International Schools Festival (AMIS) at The Hague in the Netherlands; his work for orchestra, Cimarron Portrait, was premiered at the 2003 Midwest Convention. The Concertino for Horn and Wind Ensemble was featured at the 2004 regional CBDNA conference in Atlanta with horn virtuoso Eric Ruske; the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony (AYWS) premiered Icarus at the 2005 Midwest Convention, a work selected for performance during the 2007 National Conference of CBDNA at the University of Michigan. His string quartet intimations of immortality was premiered by the Vega String Quartet on the 2008 Flora Glenn Candler Concert Series. Recent performances include The Darkening Land with AYWS and clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman (a featured work at the International Clarinet Association's 2009 International Convention in Oporto, Portugal) and the Pulitzer–nominated choral–orchestral work Stabat Mater at Emory, the subject of a 2009 PBS special. Prior's Symphony No. 3 received its premiere on March 3, 2011, with the Emory University Symphony Orchestra and his elegy for aurora dedicated to the memory of the tragedy in Aurora, CO received multiple performances in the Fall of 2012. Current projects include works for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, oboist Elizabeth Koch Tiscione and a second string quartet for the Vega Quartet as part of the twentieth anniversary season of the Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta.
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