Richard was educated in Edinburgh and went on to read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, before completing a masters degree at Edinburgh University. A year at the National Opera Studio in London (where he studied conducting under David Parry) was followed by a full-time position at the National Theatre in Mannheim, Germany, where he worked as a conductor and repetiteur.
Between 2000 and 2007 Richard worked as assistant to Adam Fischer at the Haydn festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, as well as on recordings of Mozart Opera Seria with the Danish Radio Sinfonietta (Idomeneo, Re Pastore, Mitridate, Lucio Silla, Clemenza di Tito 2002-2007). He has worked with Scottish Opera as freelance conductor and repetiteur, most recently on touring productions of Macbeth, and Eugene Onegin. In June 2009 he worked at the Salzburg Festival on a new production of Cosi fan tutte with renowned German director Claus Guth, while in 2010 he was assistant conductor at ENO on the award-wining production of A Dog’s Heart.
Richard was chorus master and conductor at Opera Queensland between 2007 and June 2010 and made his conducting debut with the company in a new production of Mozart’s Magic Flute in 2008. For his La Clemenza di Tito with English Touring Opera the Guardian’s George Hall wrote:
'The evening's chief delight lies in the orchestral playing, which, under conductor Richard Lewis, offers energy and attack, revealing the outstanding quality of a still relatively little-known score.' (March 14, 2011)
Richard is also active in musical theatre, having been creator and composer of the Edinburgh Festival hit Opera Galactica, a show which has toured the Uk, Poland and Australia.
‘In the past the standard for operatic send up around the world has been La Gran Scena. Opera Galactica is running them close.’
Robert Dawson Scott - The Scotsman 2005
He led the Scottish premier of Kenny Miller’s production of Whatever happened to baby Jane? at the Glasgow Citizen’s theatre and in 2010 condcuted the award winning children’s musical The Emperor’s Quest at the Edinburgh Festival. His musical with the storyteller Andy Cannon - The Sunshine Ghost - toured Scotland in Autumn 2017 while his Edge of the World was a big success at Oran Mor in 2018.
He has recently entered the field of cabaret; his first show - A Cabaret called Hamlet - being launched as an after show entertainment to Sir Ian McKellen's Hamlet at the 2022 Edinburgh Festival. Since then it has toured the Uk and, most recently, the 2023 Guilin Festival in China.
Richard has long been involved in education; having lectured on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's musical theatre department, opera school and the conducting faculty. He also lectures in piano and performance at Napier University Edinburgh and regularly adjudicates for Peking University.
On the symphonic front Richard has conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Danish Radio Sinfonietta, the Shanghai City Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and The Queensland Orchestra. He made his conducting debut at La Monnaie, Brussels in 2012 with Rusalka and gave the first Australian performance of Haydn’s L’isola disabitata with the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra.
He returns to Australia in 2024 where he will conduct Don Giovanni in Brisbane.
Richard Ferguson is the composing nom de plume of Richard Lewis.