Richard was educated in Edinburgh and went on to read music at Magdalen College, Oxford, and later completed a master’s degree at Edinburgh University, where he first started conducting. 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.
Since August 2000 Richard has worked as assistant to Adam Fischer at the Haydn festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, (L’incontro Improvviso, La Vera Costanza) and has assisted him on recordings of the 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 the touring production of Macbeth, and Eugene Onegin. In 2005 he marked his debut at the Salzburg Festival, in a production of Cosi fan Tutte. He returned to Salzburg in June 2009 for a new production of Cosi with renowned German director Claus Guth. In 2010 he was assistant conductor at ENO on the award wining production of A Dog’s Heart.
Richard was appointed 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 received great reviews and toured extensively.
‘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 2004
As a visiting lecturer in conducting, Opera and musical theatre at the Royal Conservatoire’s musical theatre course, he conducted their inaugural show 3hree and and has mentored the MDs on most of their shows since. 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 led 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.
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 2020 where he will conduct The Bartered Bride in Brisbane.
Richard Ferguson is the composing nom de plume of Richard Lewis.