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Remembering Richard Gaddes, 1942 – 2023

Thu 14 December 2023

Trinity Laban Honorary Fellow and alum Richard Gaddes has died, at age 81. Richard graduated from Trinity College of Music in 1964, and went on to become one of the most influential and progressive leaders in American opera.

Richard was born in 1942 in Wallsend in the North East of England. After graduating, he co-founded the Wigmore Hall Lunchtime Concerts – designed to give young musicians performance opportunities – which introduced celebrated artists including soprano Dame Margaret Price. He then joined the staff of Artists International Management, arranging auditions for impresarios including John O. Crosby, who hired him as Santa Fe’s Artistic Administrator in 1969.

Richard went on to found Opera Theatre of St Louis and served as its General Director until 1987. Under his leadership, the company achieved international recognition for the development of talented young artists – giving them professional debuts – and the presentation of a varied repertoire.

Returning to the Santa Fe Opera as Associate General Director, Richard became General Director in 2000 until his retirement in 2008. Among Richard’s multiple successful initiatives were offering discounts to first-time ticket buyers from New Mexico, hosting post-season concerts at the opera presented by different community groups, and staging fully produced offerings at various downtown locations, including Gilbert & Sullivan operettas at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Richard’s career was dedicated to furthering the careers of young singers; he championed adventurous repertoire and built new audiences through imaginative education and outreach programmes. The recipient of many awards, his international artistic status was confirmed when he received one of the first Opera Honors Awards from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2008.

In later years, Richard reconnected with Trinity Laban and became a strong advocate for us in his adopted home of New York. Richard supported our brilliantly successful trombone department trip to the Juilliard School in 2022 and we were looking forward to many more collaborations with him in his retirement.

Richard will be hugely missed by us. He leaves behind a magnificent musical legacy, and we will be forever grateful to have been part of his life.