Richard Harrison Smith

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Richard Harrison Smith is a noted choral conductor, arranger and composer. For nearly 30 years, he was the conductor of the Jamestown College Concert Choir, in its day one of the most noted small-college choirs in the United States.[1]


Smith was born in 1937 in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He received his Bachelor's Degree from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. He got his MS degree in Biochemistry at North Dakota State as well as a MS degree in Music Education at Bemidji State in Minnesota. He went on to receive his PhD in Music at the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jamestown College Concert Choir[edit]

In 1969, Smith took over as director of the Jamestown College Concert Choir. Through a combination of strict discipline and intense musical training, Smith turned the choir - unusual among top-flight concert choirs in that less than 25% its members were music majors - into a highly well-regarded choir.

In 1972, on the choir's first tour of Europe, it became the first American choir of any kind to sing at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris - an honor they repeated on several subsequent tours.

In 1984 Smith was appointed Dean, a position he held for over a decade. He also filled in occasionally during those years as a biochemistry teacher, exercising his old master's degree.

On October 13, 1994, Smith conducted a 25th anniversary reunion concert at the Jamestown Civic Center; everyone who had ever sung in the choir was invited; 400 singers - over 40% of the choir's entire alumni body - participated.

Composer, Arranger[edit]

Smith has written many choral works, and has earned special acclaim as an arranger of traditional American negro spiritual songs.


In 1999, Smith retired from Jamestown College. He and his wife of over 45 years, June, live in Hackensack, Minnesota.


  1. ^ "In Charge". The Evening News. April 14, 1973. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 

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