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Sam Richards


I am an improviser, composer, pianist and teacher.

I studied music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, learning piano and composition with Alfred Nieman. I also attended Nieman's famous improvisation classes. During my student years in London I performed with electronics pioneer Hugh Davis and took part in performances of material by Cornelius Cardew under Cardew's direction. Later I attended Dartington College of Arts.

I spent many years documenting in sound the oral traditions of the Westcountry including songs, music, stories, personal histories and oral history. My archive of this vast and varied collection is now housed by the National Sound Archive in the British Library. This fieldwork went hand-in-hand with a career as a folksinger.

I improvise both solo and with others, and I started the Totnes Improvisers' Orchestra in 2009. I also play jazz and jazz-based music and improvisations with The Jazzlab, and I recently formed a folk duo with Mick Bramich.   

As a composer I have written for the Ten Tors Orchestra, the Torbay Symphony Orchestra, piano and various large mixed ensembles and I have had many performances locally - notably at Plymouth University - and abroad, including a performance at the San Francisco Public Library in 2008. I specialise in semi-improvised performances for large groups.

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