Dr Richard Baker

Key details:

Composition | Research
Professorial Staff (Composition)
Richard Baker by Claire Shovelton
Richard Baker by Claire Shovelton


Composer, conductor, teacher and mentor, Richard Baker studied composition in the Netherlands with Louis Andriessen and in London with John Woolrich, after which the position of New Music Fellow at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2001–3) inaugurated a strand of work as a concert curator and programme adviser which continues to this day. He has been a Professor of Composition at Guildhall School of Music & Drama since 2004, and was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 2009.

His compositional output embraces songs and song cycles, several short choral pieces, instrumental solos and chamber music as well as works for larger ensemble. Key works include the basset clarinet concerto Learning to Fly (1999); Gaming (2010), a trio for cello, marimba and piano; Kerdantata (2015) for piano trio, for the Fidelio Trio; and several works for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with whom he has also worked often as a conductor. The Tyranny of Fun (2012), the second of those BCMG commissions, won Baker a nomination in the 2014 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards.

Baker’s first piece for full orchestra, The Price of Curiosity (2019), commissioned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, is the first in an ongoing series of works which juxtapose instrumental ‘transcriptions’ of human speech against transcriptions of musical material that is in some way related to it; these also include Motet II (2020) and Motet IV (Accidental Activists) (2023), composed respectively for the Marseille-based Ensemble Télémaque and the Welsh new-music ensemble UPROAR.

All of the above strands of compositional activity are represented on Baker’s NMC portrait disc released in March 2024, which brings together eight works for various forces dating from 1994 to 2020.

As a conductor, Baker has formed strong relationships with the London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Crash Ensemble, among others. As a regular collaborator for the BBC’s Total Immersion days he has directed portrait concerts of Stockhausen, George Crumb, James MacMillan, Jonathan Harvey, Oliver Knussen and Julian Anderson. He is particularly acclaimed as a conductor of contemporary opera, having premiered or revived key works by Gerald Barry, Peter Maxwell Davies, Guto Puw and Philip Venables. He has also worked with many outstanding composers of his own generation including Joanna Bailie, Richard Causton, Tansy Davies, Michael Zev Gordon, Morgan Hayes, Rebecca Saunders, Johannes Maria Staud and Ian Vine.

Recent Research Outputs

Hwyl fawr ffrindiau/Bant â ni

Baker, Richard. Hwyl fawr ffrindiau/Bant â ni. Birmingham, Sound Investment, CBSO Centre, 2016.



Baker, Richard. Kerdantata. St John's Smith Square London, 2015.



Baker, Richard. Risveglio. NMC Recordings, 2015.


The Tyranny of Fun

Baker, Richard. The Tyranny of Fun. London Composers Edition, 2013.