Richard Shephard

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Richard Shephard MBE,[1] DL,[2] FRSCM (b. 1949) is a composer, former educator, and Director of Development and Chamberlain of York Minster. He is acclaimed as one of the most significant composers of church music today.[3][4][5]

Education and musical career[edit]

Shephard was a chorister at Gloucester Cathedral, where the organist was then the composer Herbert Sumsion before taking a degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Shephard studied under composer David Willcocks, Hugh Macdonald, the great expert on Berlioz, and Alan Ridout. He started his musical career as a lay clerk in Salisbury Cathedral Choir, and at this time was Conductor of the Salisbury Grand Opera Group, the Farrant Singers, Guest Conductor of the Salisbury Orchestral Society and Musical Director of various productions at the Salisbury Playhouse. It was at this time when he was greatly influenced by Richard Seal and Lionel Dakers, the former director of the Royal School of Church Music. An article published in 1987 in the Musical Times by Dakers,The RSCM: Past, Present...and Future, states that "Our policy is to provide music of quality and interest for every contingency which can then be absorbed into a choir's working repertory. Aston, Oxley, How, Shephard, and Sumsion feature in our catalogue because they measure up to these needs, produce what we want and what we can consequently sell in large numbers." [6] Years later, in 2000, Shephard and Dakers would both contribute to The IAO Millennium Book, Thirteen essays About the Organ, a publication which comprises contemporary writings related to the organ and written by distinguished composers of the day. Shephard's article was entitled Composing for the Church today, in which he discussed current demands on church music composers in the 20th century. His first opera, The Turncoat was composed for the Salisbury International Arts Festival.[7]

As a composer, he has written operas, operettas, musicals, orchestral works, music for television, and chamber music but is perhaps best known for his choral works[8][9] which are sung extensively around the world today, especially in churches and cathedrals in England and America. His compositions are frequently broadcast in the United Kingdom.[3][10]

Shephard has received commissions from numerous associations including the Three Choirs Festival, the Southern Cathedrals Festival, Woodard Schools, the Goldsmiths' Company and the Ryedale Festival. He is a Visiting Fellow at York University's music department and a Visiting Professor in the Music department of the University of the South (Sewanee); he has received honorary doctorates from both. For his "outstanding contribution to church music"[11] he was awarded a Lambeth degree in music, and, in 2009, was granted Freedom of the City of York. Recently, he has had a place on the "Archbishop's Commission on Church Music" and on the "Church Music Commission on Cathedrals".[3][10] Shephard is also a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music, the highest honour which the RSCM offer.[12]

In November 2009, Shephard was commissioned to write a piece for the commemoration of Henry Purcell's three hundred and fiftieth birthday by The National Centre of Early Music, Ode on the 350th Birthday of Mr Henry Purcell. The piece was performed in the Royal Albert Hall by five hundred school children who make up the Scunthorpe Co-operative Junior Choir which won the BBC Radio 3 Choir of the Year in 2008. Howard Goodall co-hosted the event.[13]

In 1999 Shephard received a commission to write for the York Mystery Plays Millennium[14] and in 2008 he coauthored York Minster: A Living Legacy with the Dean of York, Keith Jones, and Louise Ann Hampson.[15]

Career in education[edit]

As well as Shephard's prolific musical career, he has also had a career in education. For a number of years Shephard worked as a member of staff at Godolphin School and Salisbury Cathedral School.[16] In 1985, he moved to York, becoming headmaster of York Minster School and Chamberlain of York Minster.[17] He remained headmaster of the school until 2004 when he stepped down,[18] and is now Director of Development at York Minster, co-ordinating fundraising.[19] He is still Chamberlain, in this role he serves as cantor at evensong and mattins, leading the responses.[10]

He was appointed MBE in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours list for his services to music and education.[1]

Selected works[edit]


Eucharistic settings:

  • The Addington Service
  • The Wiltshire Service
  • Gloucester Cathedral
  • Tisbury Service
  • The Woodard Service
  • The St. Matthew's Service (for St. Matthew's, Northampton)

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis, for:

  • Salisbury Cathedral
  • Hereford Cathedral
  • Liverpool Cathedral
  • Lionel Dakers in memoriam
  • Llandaff Cathedral
  • Gloucester Cathedral


  • Let us now praise famous men
  • Ye choirs of new Jerusalem
  • The strife is o’er
  • A Vision of Wheels
  • O for a thousand tongues
  • Last verses
  • Never weather beaten sail
  • Jesu dulcis memoria
  • And didst thou travel light
  • The birds
  • Prayer for a new mother
  • Let him who seeks
  • We give immortal praise
  • And when the builders
  • Open for me the gates of righteousness
  • Lord I have loved the habitation of thy house
  • Adam lay y-bounden
  • Who shall ascend
  • Te Deum
  • Out of the stillness
  • Jubilate Deo (for the celebrations on the 450th anniversary of the founding of Christ College, Brecon)


  • The Turncoat
  • The Dove and the Eagle
  • Caedmon
  • Good King Wenceslas
  • The Shepherds' Play
  • St Nicholas


  • All for Alice
  • The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Wind in the Willows
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Solemn Parody
  • Ernest
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Eek!
  • Emil and the Detectives


  • Overture – Mayday
  • The Musicians of Bremen
  • Six Shakespeare Songs
  • Guildhall March


  • Jonah
  • Requiem
  • St Luke Passion
  • There Was Such Beauty
  • Christmas cantata
  • Purcell birthday cantata (for the Albert Hall Schools Prom 2009)


  1. ^ a b "York church music composer Richard Shephard honoured by Queen". BBC News. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  2. ^ "New role for Paralympian and brewery boss". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Richard Shephard", Department of Music, University of York (23 December 2009). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  4. ^ Grevlos, L: The Chamber Operas of Richard James Shephard based on Sacred Legends, pp 13, 200. University of Northern Colorado (2005).
  5. ^ Haydn, Lewis. "Former Lord Mayor among those named in Queen's Birthday Honours list". York Press. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  6. ^ Darkers, L: SCM: Past, Present...and Future,The Musical Times,Vol. 128, No. 1732, June 1987.
  7. ^ Grevlos, L: The Chamber Operas of Richard James Shephard based on Sacred Legends, pp 23–7. University of Northern Colorado (2005).
  8. ^ Richard Shephard, Salisbury Symphony Orchestra (November 1992). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  9. ^ Grevlos, L: The Chamber Operas of Richard James Shephard based on Sacred Legends, pp 5,28,32. University of Northern Colorado (2005).
  10. ^ a b c "Other information—Chamberlain", Dean and Chapter of York Minster (2010). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  11. ^ Grevlos, L: The Chamber Operas of Richard James Shephard based on Sacred Legends, page 32. University of Northern Colorado (2005).
  12. ^
  13. ^ "500 York Primary School Children to sing in the Schools Prom", National Centre for Early Music (20 October 2009). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  14. ^ Grevlos, L: The Chamber Operas of Richard James Shephard based on Sacred Legends, page 29. University of Northern Colorado (2005).
  15. ^ Jones, Keith; Hampson, Louise Ann and Shephard, Richard; York Minster: A Living Legacy, Third Millennium Publishing (6 Nov 2008), ISBN 978-1-903942-75-8.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Page, Ann; "York, The Minster School" Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Of Choristers. Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  18. ^ Donaldson, Alex; "Message from the Headmaster", The Minster School (2008). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.
  19. ^ "Who’s Who At York Minster—People who assist the Dean and Chapter", Dean and Chapter of York Minster (2010). Retrieved on 21 June 2010.

External links[edit]