Sam L. Richards is a music theorist, composer, conductor, artist, and researcher with a penchant for interdisciplinary collaboration and an appetite for creative engagement of unwieldy conceptual problems. With degrees from the University of Utah (B.M.), University of Oregon (M.M.), and the University of Michigan (D.M.A.), he has worked with painters, photographers, filmmakers, animators, choreographers, engineers, biologists, and neuroscientists on projects ranging from symphonies to cerebral sonification. His eclectic experience informs his work as a performing musician, creative facilitator, and critical pedagogue and he regularly steps off the beaten path in order to engage new things in new ways.
He served as the Director & Conductor of the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble (ECCE) throughout the 2008-2010 seasons, conducting orchestral and chamber works and directing a concert series promoting the work of contemporary composers and musical artists. As Director and as an ongoing advocate for interdisciplinary work, he crafted and curated a collaborative concert between student composers and choreographers titled ANIMA, which was the first of its kind on the University of Oregon campus.
He continues to work as a composer and creative facilitator with choreographers both nationally and internationally, with work commissioned and performed by numerous respected artists and companies including Valerie Ifill Dance (PA), Alexandra Taylor Dance (NY), Atlanta Dance Collective (GA), and somebodies dance theater (CA). In addition to his work as a composer for dance, his research about music and dance collaborations has been co-presented with Valerie Ifill at the National Dance Education Organization’s (NDEO) National Conference. His sound scores have been used in numerous dance films and publicly screened at festivals including the Y’Allywood Film Festival, Suiker Zoet Film Festival, and the Utah Dance Film Festival where Undermining Cliffs received the “Arches Award.”
His multimedia work and installations have been featured at the Center for Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology (UT), and the Duderstadt Center Gallery (MI). Other interdisciplinary work includes being a founding member of the MiND Ensemble, a new-media performance group and research collective that uses custom interfaces to explore the mind-machine-music connection via EEG brainwave scanning technology. Public performances and demonstrations of the MiND Ensemble’s work have been presented at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference.
His research interests are as diverse as his artistic endeavors, including forays into the cultural economy of artistic prestige, data visualization/sonification, postmodernism, artistic quotation, and critical pedagogy. He is particularly passionate about the philosophy of music education and music theory pedagogy, having presented his research at numerous national and international conferences. His published work can be found in Perspectives of New Music and Engaging Students.