Richard McGregor was born Glasgow and studied at the Universities of Glasgow, and Liverpool where he completed a PhD study of the music of Thea Musgrave 1959-67 and subsequently studied in Siena with Donatoni in the early 1980s. He worked as a teacher in Strathclyde, Essex and Bedfordshire, and from 1992-2006 was Head of Performing Arts at St Martin’s College (legacy institution of the University of Cumbria), and then Head of Educational Music. From 2010-13 he was the Director of Research and Graduate Studies at the University of Cumbria, and from 2006 Professor of Music there (now Emeritus).

During the course of his career he was actively involved in the development of educational initiatives in both Music and the Performing Arts. He was a member of the group which created the ground-breaking first A level in Performing Arts and was a committee member for NAMHE (National Association for Music in Higher Education). From 2001-07 he was a member of the Music Benchmarking Group which created both the original statements and the revised benchmark statements for Music in Higher Education . He served as institutional representative to the TERN (Teacher Education Research Network) group and was a member of the research committee of UCET (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers).

He is best known for his research and analytical work on the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, and has written a number of major articles on the composer’s works including on Davies’s use of plainsong and other source material; on the middle symphonies; on parody/pastiche in the composer’s music; on the decoding of Davies’s personal alphabet; on the music theatre work Mr Emmet Takes a Walk, and the ballet Salome. A jointly-authored major study of Davies’s music (with Dr Nicholas Jones) was published in 2020 as was an article ‘Mind Games’ exploring aspects of Davies’s music theatre works.

He was recently described as a ‘trailblazer’ for his work on the work of James MacMillan which has included studies of Veni Veni Emmanuel and O Bone Jesu; an interview with MacMillan with critical commentary; an article on MacMillan’s musical identity and on his Passion settings. In the European context he has written major studies of Wolfgang Rihm’s Chiffre cycle and Tutuguri as well as more generally on music and spirituality, agency, identity and inspiration.

His compositions, which are held at the Scottish Music Centre, include: Sarajevo 583 for string orchestra, ‘I am the Rose of Sharon’ for solo, SSA and strings’, ‘Greeks bearing gifts’ for two pianos, Three Medieval Love Lyrics for women’s voices, Tableaux for two pianos, and Madrigales (on words by Lorca).

He is a part-time lecturer Practical Musicianship, Study Skills and Academic Writing (research, essay writing, planning etc), as well as tutoring in keyboard skills and education based enquiry.

Richard is currently involved with the Department of Theology at St Andrew’s University around the music of James MacMillan and Music and Spirituality including including a key spirituality conference (with related publication) held in June 2023. A future project is the compilation of an edited volume on Music and Spirituality for Routledge, and book chapters on Music and Spirituality and on Scottish Symphonists are currently in press.

Awards and achievements

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Emeritus Professor of Music of the University of Cumbria