Richard Cooke

Richard Cooke was Music Director of the University of Essex Choir for 39 seasons. During his tenure he nurtured the choir’s development and played a pivotal role in creating a strong ensemble which has gained an enviable reputation in the East of England performing a wide repertoire with excellent professional musicians, both orchestra and soloists. The concerts attracted audiences of up to eight hundred, and were generally recognised as some of the best choral concerts in East Anglia, winning well deserved critical acclaim.
A boy chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral, and then Choral Scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Richard was Conductor of the London Philharmonic Choir for ten years from 1982, working with the world’s leading conductors, including Haitink, Muti, Mehta, Solti and Klaus Tennstedt. He has appeared many times in the concert halls of London with the Royal Choral Society since 1995. Most notable of these have been their annual Good Friday performances of Handel’s Messiah and spectacular Christmas Carol Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall (in which some members of the University of Essex Choir were invited to participate). On Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014, marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War he conducted a performance of Britten’s War Requiem in the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Choral Society, the London Philarmonic Orchestra and an international team of soloists which included Bryn Terfel. This followed the earlier performance of the War Requiem with the University of Essex Choir at Snape Maltings.
Richard Cooke had an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music conferred on him by the University of Essex in 1996 in recognition of his work for the musical life of the University. He was similarly honoured in 2010 by the University of Kent in Canterbury Cathedral.
2020 marked Richard’s last year as Music Director with the University of Essex Choir. His final performance with the choir was to have been Bach’s Mass in B Minor accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra at Snape Maltings in May but due to the COVID-19 pandemic this has been postponed until May 2021.

Richard Cooke