Richard Chew studied at the University of Birmingham and the Royal College of Music, where he was awarded the President’s Rose Bowl by HM The Queen Mother. He went on to study singing with Margreet Honig in Amsterdam and London and composition with Louis Andriessen and Peter Sculthorpe at Dartington.
Richard has worked as a baritone, specialising in new music theatre and opera with the Royal Shakespeare Company, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera North, Aldeburgh Festival, Second Stride, Richard Alston Dance Company, Music Theatre London, Opera Factory, London Sinfonietta, Bournmouth Sinfonietta, City of London Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra and many others. He has received commissions from ENO, Welsh National Opera, Vienna Festival, Festival of Arts and Ideas, Connecticut USA, Stan’s Café Theatre, Young Vic, Theatre Company, Wonderful Beast, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Three Choirs Festival, Sarum Chamber Orchestra, Lyndsay Quartet, Salisbury Cathedral (750th Anniversary Concert) and State Opera of South Australia.
Richard was awarded his PhD from the University of South Australia and has taught as a lecturer in music and drama at UniSA, Elder Conservatorium of Music- University of Adelaide and the Arts Academy, Federation University, Ballarat, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts, Interim Director and Program Leader in Music Theatre. As a pianist/composer, he has given concerts for Recitals Australia, Jazz SA and his narrative piano composition The Last of England was premiered at the Art Gallery of Ballarat as the opening event in the Australian Historical Society’s annual conference in 2016. Richard has recently completed a CD recording of this work, funded by Creative Arts Victoria.
"Richard Chew’s eerie music casts the image into a kind of Uri Geller mind warp."
Daily Variety, NYC. (Sleeping Beauty, Young Vic Theatre Company, New Victory Theatre, Broadway)
"Chew skilfully blends Caribbean and European musical ingredients, and the singers are accompanied by a chamber orchestra. The musical highlight is overpoweringly the end of the first half, when Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ is used to build a grand passacaglia which left the whole audience stunned…something that will remain firmly, movingly in the memory of anyone who saw it."
The Spectator (Mary Seacole, Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London)
"We could easily be attending an RSC production (Richard Chew's subtly harmonious music is in keeping with this)"
"Richard Chew’s atmospheric score proves highly effective."
The Telegraph (Sleeping Beauty, Barbican, London)
"The Shout continues to develop an ensemble sound and attitude like no other. It encompasses at least a dozen different singing styles and traditions, with the freewheeling flexibility of a jazz trio and the power and range of a classical choir twice its size. It is entertaining, funny and deadly serious. It is full of enormous egos and talents, yet they work effortlessly to create intricate and contemporary textures with no apparent effort or tension: all the energy is directed towards the audience."
"Every choral director in Britain should hear The Shout. In the hands of these 17 professional singers and their composer/directors – Richard Chew and Orlando Gough – the dusty old notion of the ‘choir concert’ has been transformed into a virtuoso display of vocal art and visual spectacle…The Shout offers a blue-print for 21st century choral singing. Few choirs will be able to emulate these performers’ virtuosity. But none should remain impervious to their influence."
"Tall Stories is not what most people would call an opera, but it packs a punch most contemporary operas could only dream of."
London Evening Standard (Tall Stories, an a cappella opera for The Shout)
"Richard Chew's music adds to the sense of pleasurable sophistication by incorporating mock-medieval Latin chants with catchier songs from Hazel Holder's bumptious minstrel. That in itself speaks, and sings, volumes about a production that is as socially and theatrically inclusive as anyone could wish."
STARI MOST, an extraordinary musical celebration by the composer Richard Chew, reminded a packed Salisbury Cathedral last week that the River Neretva — like the Tisza, Sava, Morava, Danube, and Olt — has been one of the lifelines of Eastern Europe since before the New Stone Age…
Richard Chew in a masterstroke assigned the voice of the bridge to a choir of children…This splendidly prepared, robust, and keyed-up ensemble delivered the music as if their lives depended on it. Every syllable told, and their vocal projection, audibility, and clarity in so vast a building as Salisbury — the placing of choir and orchestra at the West End paid dividends, as often it does in English abbeys and cathedrals — was superb.
There was no thin sentiment in the music they had to sing: Chew, who has studied with the Australian Peter Sculthorpe and the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen — and teachers don’t come much more objective or wiser than that — has a voice like neither of them: fresh in spirit, rich in allusion, judicious in orchestration, shrewd in his use of musical time and space, and masterly at gauging how to draw the best from his forces.
These are not luxuries in composition, they are the very tools of the trade; I sensed a master not in the making, but one already arrived.
Church Times (Stari Most, Salisbury Cathedral, 2008)
"An important piece of music…composer Richard Chew, together with his librettist Peter Cann, have produced a piece of genuine power and approachability, the tension never dropping for a second…a highly skilled piece of orchestral and choral writing, laced with sounds and melodies from Bosnia."
Musical Opinion (Start Most)
"...an important musical moment... The music: excellent... The message: eternal."
The Advertiser (Stari Most, Come Out Festival, 2011, Adelaide)
The story of emigration to Australia is close to the bone for composer-educator Richard Chew, who with his family made that long journey back in 2005. He felt, however, that perhaps the seeds of that trek had always been there, remembering from his youth a visit to the Birmingham Art Gallery where he was struck by Ford Madox Ford's painting The Last of England.
When, years later, he found that it was a self portrait of the artist and his family, about to leave on that same long journey, it struck a chord that wouldn't go.
And so, to an appreciative audience in the resonant acoustic of the barrel room at Coriole, Chew unveiled a developing suite for piano, inspired by this painting. And what variety in his music. The business of preparing for the journey, the fond farewells, definitely goodbyes in those days. Then in Voyage, the rippling waves and the vast expanses of sea, the driving wind in Spinnaker, and a twenty-first century song without words in Leave Taken, with an aching melody.
Certain aspects of the painting, like the magenta of his wife's scarf (on which Ford apparently laboured for six weeks) receive special emphasis, in this case a driving, rhythmical pulse as he works and works the colour. Others are more broadly considered, like Waltz on the Sand, on their arrival.
If this is a work in progress, just wait for the finished product.
The Advertiser (The Last of England, Coriole Winery, Chamber Music Adelaide, 2013)