Since graduating from the Royal College of Music in 1972, at the age of 18, Richard Harvey has been a ubiquitous and diverse presence on the London music scene, not only as a prolific composer and conductor but an exceptional virtuoso performer of almost 700 instruments from around the world – blown, plucked, keyed, bowed, beaten and programmed.
Richard’s early forays into the professional world involved performing on medieval and Renaissance-era instruments with early music ensemble Musica Reservata, and his own progressive rock and folk band, Gryphon, in which he toured three continents, recorded five albums, and played over 30 different instruments. Richard has come a long way since starting recorder lessons at the age of four, progressing via a stint as first clarinet with the British Youth Symphony Orchestra to recording for and collaborating with major contemporary composers including John Williams, Stanley Myers, Harry Gregson-Williams, Sir Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and many others.
Working with celebrated composer Maurice Jarre in the mid 1970s fuelled Richard’s rich career as a sought-after film composer, and he has scored over 70 television and film
projects to date, from British television series, documentaries and feature length TV films, to major Hollywood movies. He contributed the much-loved Kyrie for the Magdalene to Hans Zimmer’s score for the smash hit “The Da Vinci Code” (2006).
Richard is also an important presence in the Thai film industry, composing for four of the biggest movies ever produced in Thailand, including the epic “King Naresuan” (Part I, 2006, Part II, 2007, and Part IV, 2011). He was honoured with a Royal invitation to work closely with executive producer Francis Ford Coppola and score the major historic movie “Suriyothai”, now recognised as a classic of the Thai cinema. In addition, he has given concerts for Her Majesty the Queen and Princess Sirindhorn, and is proud to be co-founder of the ROSL/Conrad “Young Musician of Thailand” awards.
Setting scenes, creating atmosphere, pacing action and defining character, Richard has added an extra dimension to the visual medium. His talent as a composer of film and
television music has been recognised with a British Academy Award and four Ivor Novello nominations. His score to Borough Films’ controversial and International Emmy awardwinning “Death of a President” won him the International Critic’s Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival and was nominated under “Best Score for a Documentary Film or Television Program” at the 2007 Film and TV Music Awards.
In addition, Richard’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist continue to be called upon for both live performances and feature films, including Disney’s “The Lion King” (1994), “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005), and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (2008). His passion for musical instruments, old and new, and his collection of more than 700, which he has accumulated over thirty years of world travel, mean that he is in high demand for a fascinating range of projects. He has appeared at venues as diverse as the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House, Madison Square Garden, Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, the Phuping Palace, Chiang Mai, and St Paul’s Cathedral, both as soloist and as conductor. Richard has also made several classical albums, including a Classical Record of the Year, “Italian Recorder Concertos” (1982), which remains in Gramophone Magazine’s Top 100. He was commissioned to write “Concerto Antico” (1995) for classical guitar virtuoso John Williams, which has been recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and released by Sony, enjoying live performances around the world.
In a further display of his musical eclecticism, together with artist and writer Ralph Steadman, Richard was commissioned to compose and conduct a major cathedral piece for the 1989 Exeter Music Festival. The result was the hugely ambitious eco-oratorio “Plague and the Moonflower”, which has now been performed and experienced as a seminal work and profound statement on environmental issues in numerous English cathedrals and music festivals, even as far away as Australia, and filmed for an award-winning BBC production. In 2009 Richard was commissioned to write a concerto for the sensational recorder player, Michala Petri, which was followed by another concerto commission for renowned violist Roger Chase. His Recorder Concerto (Concerto Incantato) has now been recorded by Ms Petri and released on a new CD, English Recorder Concertos, alongside works by Malcolm Arnold and Gordon Jacob.
Besides his professional projects, Richard runs a charity with a board of trustees made up of other UK-based professional musicians. Richard launched this ambitious new charity, the MAE Foundation (www.maefoundation.org.uk) in 2010, with the aim of bringing musical instruments and music teaching to the thousands of refugee children from Burma who live behind the wire in semi-permanent jungle camps along the Thai/Burmese border.
Richard lives in Surrey, where he pursues his love of cricket, and enjoys winters in Thailand, where he pursues his love of warmth, travel and adding to his ever-growing collection of musical instruments.