Richard Cooke
Music Director

Richard Cooke is in his 40th year as Music Director of Canterbury Choral Society, during which time he has conducted nearly 200 concerts in Canterbury Cathedral of works covering five centuries. He established the CCS Youth Choir in 2007.

Richard has been Music Director of the Royal Choral Society since 1995 and gives regular concerts with them in the Royal Albert Hall and London’s other main concert halls. In December, as in every year since 2018 except the pandemic years 2019 and 2020, he has conducted the Christmas season at the Royal Albert Hall, now 17 concerts with the RCS, National Youth Choir and RPO in the Royal Albert Hall. He retired as Music Director of the University of Essex Choir after 39 years, missing only his final concert in May 2020 due to the pandemic.

He is the Music Director of Music Weeks in Sweden, a twice-yearly course for singers who form a choir for a week in the summer with a concert in the historic cathedral of Lund, and over New Year in the more remote region of north-west Dalarna.

Richard was a boy chorister of St Paul’s Cathedral, and later sang for four years as a Choral Scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge under David Willcocks. In 2010 he became an Honorary Doctor of Music at the University of Kent, and was similarly honoured in 1996 by the University of Essex. Born in Cornwall, he returns each summer for his favourite outdoor activity of body-surfing (wooden board!). He also enjoys cycling and hill walking (climbing Munros and equivalents) in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District.

He has worked with England’s great orchestras in the most celebrated venues and alongside distinguished soloists, many of whom have been to Canterbury to perform with Canterbury Choral Society. During the covid pandemic, he wrote several blogs, mostly on music, which you can read on his website:

Richard Cooke's 40th Anniversary Concert

“My 40 years with Canterbury Choral Society have rushed by, propelled by the dedication and enthusiasm of its members, the aim to produce high-quality performances, and perhaps most of all, the continuing development of our wonderful Youth Choir. I am so lucky to be with such a wonderful group of people. If the next 40 years are like the first 40, then life will have been good (and very long!)”