Ernest Richardson

Resident Conductor & Principal Pops Conductor

Ernest Richardson is in high demand as a conductor, composer, arranger, violist, organizational leader, and inspirational speaker. His versatility finds him within one season conducting Stravinsky's Firebird Suite or Broadway artists in the works of Leonard Bernstein, a live-to-movie production of Harry Potter, facilitating strategic decision-making for leading arts organizations, or training young musicians in the passionate, persistent pursuit of perfection.

He has been at the forefront of symphonic video/live music productions, conducting live-to-movie scores of the Harry Potter series with Cine Concerts, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, Pirates of the Caribbean, Singin’ in the Rain, Casablanca, Ratatouille, Star Trek (2009), the Charlie Chaplin silent film The Gold Rush, and most recently Star Wars: A New Hope.

Richardson is presently the principal pops conductor and resident conductor of the Omaha Symphony. Since 1993, he has laid the groundwork for and led in the development of the Omaha Symphony’s vaunted education and community engagement programs. In addition to his artistic leadership in the creation of the annual top-selling Christmas Celebration production, he leads the successful Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, and Movies Series. The highly successful Family Series was created under his artistic leadership and he is one of the visionary forces behind the innovative 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. This 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.

Richardson holds the position of music director and principal conductor of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Under his leadership this organization has grown from a community orchestra to a resident professional orchestra, attracting the area’s finest musicians.

Recent guest conducting engagements include the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, and the Phoenix Symphony. He has also conducted with the Nashville Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, and Cheyenne Symphony, and has been guest conductor and clinician for regional and all-state orchestras in Arizona and Nebraska. Richardson has also been lauded for his crossover work with singers and choral ensembles.

A recipient of the 2016 Nebraska Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Arts Education, Richardson has encouraged and supported countless young musicians. He is the founding artistic director and CEO of the innovative Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory, and until 2015 also held the position of music director and principal conductor for the Santa Barbara Music and Arts Conservatory.

An accomplished composer and arranger, Richardson composed the symphonic work Three Scenes for Chamber Orchestra, debuted by the Omaha Symphony in 2011. His works are featured largely in the annual Christmas production and on many education and outreach programs and have been performed around the world.

Richardson's achievements in Omaha were foreshadowed by his success with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, where he began his conducting career. Richardson came to the Phoenix Symphony as a violist in 1984, appearing later as a soloist and acting associate principal. He 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, Richardson also studied composition with William Albright and William Bolcom.

In addition to his work with musicians, Richardson brings understanding of organizational issues in the industry and provides strategic planning facilitation to a variety of nonprofit organizations.

An avid fly fisherman, he 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.

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