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Toronto-born composer Mark Richards completed a Bachelor of Music in Composition at the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) in Toronto in 2002, studying with Samuel Dolin and Alexander Rapoport. Since 2004, Richards has pursued graduate studies in music theory at the University of Toronto. There, he completed a Master’s degree in 2007 with a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and is currently pursuing a Doctorate degree, for which he has received a prestigious three-year Doctoral Award from SSHRC. An accomplished pianist, Richards also holds ARCT diplomas from the RCM in both piano performance and piano teaching.

In 2004, Richards began writing both the music and libretto of his full-length opera Hamlet, adapted from Shakespeare’s play, and worked assiduously during his summer breaks from university until completing both a piano and chamber orchestra version in 2008. He has had numerous excerpts performed in Toronto and Stratford, and in 2008, the orchestral version received a workshop and public concert reading at Stratford Summer Music. For this workshop, Richards was featured in an article by John Terauds in The Toronto Star in August 2008. The piano version of the opera was given a staged workshop in June 2009 by Tryptych Vocal Arts in Toronto as part of their 10th anniversary festivities.

Richards’ latest performed song cycle The Blackening Landscape, based on an environmental theme and for soprano, flute, cello, and piano, was premiered in March 2009 in Toronto and encored the following September at the Glenn Gould Studio with Off Centre Music Salon. Other vocal works include the song cycles Remembrances of Nature, set to poetry by William Wordsworth, and The Tiger and Other Songs on William Blake, which won first place in the Kiwanis Festival Vocal Composition Class.

Richards has recently completed a new song cycle entitled The Green Oasis, for baritone, cello, and piano, on poems from a set of the same name by the great Canadian poet Bliss Carman, which was premiered on April 24, 2010. He has now been commissioned to write a children's opera, Thumbelina, based on the story by Hans Christian Andersen, for Off Centre Music Salon.

Richards has also composed works in many other genres. His choral works include The Daffodils, set to the well-known Wordsworth poem, and Bells are Ringing, which was awarded an honourable mention in the Amadeus Choir’s 2007 Christmas Carol and Chanukah Song Writing Competition. Richards’ output also includes works for orchestra, solo piano, string quartet, other chamber ensembles, and many works for children.

In addition to his activities as a composer and graduate student, Richards served as music director of the Inga Jarrett Memorial Concert in Toronto from 2006-2010 and is employed by RCM Examinations as an editor, setter, and examiner of their senior theory exams. Richards also continues to be active as an instructor of piano and music theory at his private studio.

Updated February 2011

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