Conductor, composer, arranger, violist, organizational leader and inspirational speaker, Ernest Richardson joined the Omaha Symphony during the 1993/94 season. Since then, he has cast the vision for and led in the development of the Omaha Symphony’s vaunted education and community engagement programs. He has helped develop the symphony’s video/live music productions and has encouraged and supported countless young musicians in the Omaha area. In addition to his artistic leadership in the creation of the annual sold-out Christmas Celebration production, he leads the Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, and the Movie Music series as the Omaha Symphony's Principal Pops Conductor, a title he acquired in 2015. The highly successful and innovative Family series was created under his artistic leadership, and he is one of the visionary forces behind the Symphony Joslyn series.
As chief architect of the Omaha Symphony’s education and community engagement programs, Richardson has been at the forefront of crafting the vision for the programs and their impact on the community. The pivotal point in his leadership can be traced to the first education report written in the beginning of his tenure with the Omaha Symphony. The report paved the way for the structure, function, and programming of the Education Department, leading to innovations in all programming including the creation of Choral Collaborative, Celebrate Creativity, the Family series, and Mission Imagination.
In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Richardson serves as music director of the Steamboat Symphony. Under his leadership the organization has grown from a community orchestra to a resident professional orchestra. As one of the up and coming orchestras in the Front Range of Colorado, the Steamboat Symphony attracts the area’s finest musicians. Audiences continue to grow with each concert heralded with standing ovations and standing room only houses.
Since 1997, Ernest Richardson has served as the founding artistic director and CEO of the innovative Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory. From its inception, four foundational principles: the passionate, persistent pursuit of perfection; vision-directed leadership; the musician as athlete; and in all things – balance, catapulted the program to international attention. It has attracted the finest faculty and leading young musicians from around the world. Graduates from the program teach, perform, and lead arts organizations throughout the country and the world.
An accomplished composer and arranger, Richardson’s Three Scenes for Chamber Orchestra was debuted by the Omaha Symphony in 2011. His works are also featured in the Christmas Spectacular production and on many education and outreach programs. His compositions and arrangements for orchestra have been performed by the Phoenix Chamber Players, the Phoenix Symphony, the Steamboat Symphony, and throughout the United States. Commissions for voice and chamber ensemble have been performed by Opera Omaha and the Omaha Symphony, and have been featured on the Omaha Chamber Music Society concert series. His credits also include a broadcast performance of his Fall of a Man-made Star composition on Boston’s WGBH.
Richardson enjoys working with young musicians. He served as music director and principal conductor for the Santa Barbara Music and Arts Conservatory in Santa Barbara, California, and has been guest conductor and clinician for regional and all-state orchestras in Arizona and Nebraska, the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra, Omaha Area Youth Orchestras, Steamboat Symphony, Santa Barbara City College, as well as festivals in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the University of Georgia. He has guest conducted with the Florida Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Opera Omaha, Fort Collins Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, and the Cheyenne Symphony.
Richardson's achievements in Omaha were foreshadowed by his success with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, where he began his conducting career. He founded and served as music director and conductor for the Phoenix Chamber Players (1987) and the Phoenix Symphony Baroque Ensemble (1989). Richardson came to the Phoenix Symphony as a violist in 1984, appearing later as a soloist and acting associate principal. In 1990, his talents were added to the Phoenix Symphony String Quartet. While with the Phoenix Symphony, Richardson served as the musicians’ ICSOM representative, the chair of the Orchestra Committee, volunteer coordinator, and acting director of operations for the organization.
Richardson began studying the violin at the age of three with his father, Dr. Vernal Richardson. He continued his string education at Indiana University with Tadeusz Wronski, later concentrating on the viola at the University of Michigan with Donald McInnes. He studied conducting with Samuel Krachmalnick and Gustav Meier. While attending the University of Michigan, he studied composition with William Albright and William Bolcom.
An avid fly fisherman, Richardson can be found on trout streams in Colorado and the local municipal lakes in Omaha. He has also earned a black belt in tae kwon do. He lives in Omaha with his wife and children.