EX CATHEDRA | Richard Green - bass

From our ‘Christmas Music by Candlelight programme’, December 2015. Richard’s photo is from our performance of Concert Dansé in 2014.

Born in Burton-on-Trent, Richard sang and played a few notes on the recorder, later picking up the French Horn at secondary school. His first ever public concert was as a boy treble in a performance of Carmina Burana and later in Stainer’s The Crucifixion. The local library was well-stocked with LPs of the great composers; there was a school orchestra, town Junior and Youth Orchestras and a competitive music festival, while writing tunes for music homework assignments led to some initial efforts in composition.

Richard studied Chemistry at Durham University and there caught ‘the bug’ for computer programming – on punched cards, initially! In 1985 Richard moved to Birmingham to work in the water industry and took singing lessons with Pauline Alder, whilst singing with the Birmingham Festival Choral Society and the City of Birmingham Choir, prior to joining Ex Cathedra.

Work eventually transitioned from Management Services roles to full-blown IT Development, in a number of industries, such as electricity, telecoms and, these days, heavy engineering. Richard has attended several Summer Schools of Music over many years, including Canford, Wortley, Hereford, Pamparato, Urbino and Assisi; he now returns to Sherborne every year to attend Malcolm Singer’s Composition Workshop. Singing with Ex Cathedra, and discovering the vast treasury of extraordinary vocal music already in existence, curtailed the flow of Richard’s own vocal composition for some time. However, last year, Jeffrey programmed Richard’s “Ring out, wild bells” in the Christmas Music by Candlelight concerts, finally connecting Richard’s two main worlds of music!

1. How long have you been a member of Ex Cathedra and why did you join?

I have sung with Ex Cathedra since 1998. Margaret Langford (another Ex Cathedran), mentioned a ‘teachers’ choir’ (Ex Cathedra) in Birmingham to me and I made enquiries. I was under-prepared for my initial audition and unsuccessful; however, Jeffrey encouraged me to re-audition. This I did, successfully, a few years later, following a Summer School of Music in Pamparato, Italy, which first brought pre-Classical music to my attention with any seriousness. My first Ex Cathedra concert was Poulenc Figure Humaine in Coleshill Parish Church, and I’ve never looked back!

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

Ironically, after all these years in Birmingham – which I love – I now have to get up early in Acock’s Green and travel to work at Fradley Park, just past Lichfield. Fortunately I have no problem with this routine because the journey is OK, and the work and the people are great. IT Development (i.e. analysis and programming) is actually a very creative activity; it is possible to look at a solution for a business requirement and to see beauty in it. Well, some of us find it that way! The culture in our organisation seems to be as good as anywhere I’ve worked. Finding things out from people and mentoring junior colleagues is a real joy there too.

Naturally Ex Cathedra rehearsals and concerts are a regular delight and at weekends I get out to see friends and family; I indulge my other passions of Italian (speakers’ club) and country walking fairly frequently.

3. If you could choose to perform again any piece you have performed before with Ex Cathedra, what would it be, and & why?

As other featured Ex Cathedrans have said before me, this is a very difficult question. I agree that the Bach Passions – and the B Minor Mass – are central to why we do this. I recall a particular thrill with the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers in Hereford a few years ago, demonstrating what a radical, modern composer CM was, 400 years ago. I expected that I would tire of Carmina Burana with the many repeated performances for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, but in fact I still find it thrilling every time, particularly with it being part of a dance production. Speaking of which the Duruflé Requiem may have changed for me forever last year, when we sang it barefoot with fast moving, stiletto-heeled dancers all around us!

I’m also a huge fan of Igor Stravinsky’s music and I could only have had the opportunity to sing in a big favourite, Les Noces, with Ex Cathedra. We also performed his Mass in the course of the “IgorFest” a few years ago and in Sparkhill several years ago.

4. What’s your musical “guilty secret”?

A friend and one-time colleague co-owns a company “Ovine by Design”, whose website offers retro remakes of old computer games, which are free to download. About 12 years ago he invited me to contribute some music for their Windows version of a 1980s game called “Imogen”, a 2D labyrinth puzzle game. Looking at Andy’s cartoony, 1980s style graphics (think Commodore 64 etc.), I responded in kind, exploring some of the more 1980s commercial offerings in a Roland sound module I have at home. The download counter for this remake is well into the many tens of thousands, and so it turns out that it’s this music, out of all my occasional efforts over many years, which has been heard by the most people!