Richard Prior

Edward Goodwin Scruggs Conducting Chair

Senior Lecturer in Composition & Director of Orchestral Studies

Director of Performance Studies

Conductor Emory Symphony Orchestra & Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra

Office: Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Room 321

Phone: 404-712-8625

Fax: 404-727-0074




A.Mus.D. 1996, University of Nottingham


Award winning conductor and composer Richard Prior’s musical training began in his native England, where he received degrees in composition and conducting from Leeds and Nottingham Universities. He has taught at several universities and colleges in the United States and at St. Catherine's College, Oxford University where he was the 1997 Visiting Fellow in Music. From music written as a high school student performed in the presence of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II to his professional debut in 1988 at London's Westminster Abbey, Prior's music has been performed, recorded, and broadcast widely in Europe and North America. Atlanta performances have included intimations of immortality premiered by the Vega String Quartet, The Darkening Land with clarinet virtuoso Richard Stoltzman and the Pulitzer-nominated choral-orchestral work Stabat Mater, the subject of a 2009 broadcast. Prior's Symphony No. 3 received its premiere at Emory in 2011 and his elegy for aurora dedicated to the memory of those lost in the tragedy in Aurora, CO received multiple performances in 2012 and 2013. Prior's former teachers and mentors include Alan Ridout, Philip Wilby, James Fulkerson, Nigel Osborne and Trevor Wishart. He has been a selected participant in workshops and masterclasses with a diverse array of composers including Pierre Boulez, Henryk Gorecki, John McCabe and Milton Babbitt.

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra 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.

A winner of numerous awards for his compositions and teaching, Prior won the 2008 Harvy Philips Award for Excellence in Composition at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and was the recipient in 2009 of Emory University's 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. Current projects include works for the ASO's Principal Flutist, Christina Smith, Principal Oboist, Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, international viola soloist, Stephen Upshaw and a second string quartet for the Vega Quartet.

In demand as a guest conductor and clinician, Prior has led numerous honor and all-state orchestras and a variety of professional consortiums from the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra. He has appeared with the Charlotte Symphony, the New Orleans Civic Symphony, the Rome Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony of Ukraine, the Odessa Philharmonic. He has been reviewed in the press as having "stirring conviction," "precision," and "stylishness and flexibility," with the noted "meteoric rise" of ensembles under his direction. Prior's principal teachers include Sir Simon Rattle, James Paul and William LaRue Jones. Prior is a founding member and past president of the College Orchestra Directors Association, South Central Division; he serves on the Atlanta Regional Commission's Arts and Culturre Assessment Committee and various boards. In addition to his conducting duties at Emory University, Prior is also Conductor of the Rome Symphony Orchestra (GA) where he holds the Georgia Power Conducting Chair.

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