Richard Rice has been active as a singer, conductor, and composer in the Washington, D.C. area for over 20 years. For over a decade, as director of Canticum Novum Schola, he has provided Gregorian chant for traditional Latin Masses in the greater Washington area.
He has been described as the country’s preeminent chant typographer, having spent over a decade transcribing Gregorian chant in traditional notation, using the Meinrad chant font. His edited collections of chant, including The Parish Book of Chant and Communio, are available through the Church Music Association of America. Practical needs have led him to compile simplified settings of Gradual and Alleluia verses, as well as verses for Offertory chants using the texts from the Offertoriale Triplex.
He has had a long-standing interest in adapting Gregorian chant melodies to English texts. His collection of Responsorial Psalm refrains, along with Offertory responses and Magnificat antiphons, are in daily use by the Poor Clare Sisters of Alexandria, Virginia. That experience led to his ongoing contributions to the Chabanel Responsorial Psalm Project, which use more freely adapted chant melodies that more naturally accommodate the English texts. He recently completed a collection titled English Magnificat Antiphons for the Sundays of the Year with organ accompaniment, which uses composed melodies based on chant types: flexible melodic formulas for each mode (in this case, Mode VIII) that can accommodate a remarkable variety of textual lengths and accent patterns.
His choral settings of liturgical texts favor the traditional Latin Mass and include Mass settings, sacred arias, and motets, many based on texts of the Mass Propers. His choral works range from very traditional to severely modern. He is especially proud that his Salve Regina for mixed choir is included in the G. Schirmer catalog as part of its Harold Rosenbaum Choral Series. A few of his more accessible liturgical works are available from CanticaNOVA Publications. He has particularly enjoyed writing for treble voices (SSA). His Four Marian Antiphons received several performances by the Washington-area Countertop Quartet. Building on that success, he produced an entire cycle of Introits for Treble Choir, covering the entire Church Year. He is also well along in a cycle of Offertories for mixed choir, most of which have been performed by the professional choir of St. John the Beloved. His Simple Choral Gradual contains choral settings of English Entrance, Offertory, and Communion chants for the Church Year, designed especially to introduce the singing of Mass Propers into average parishes.
He has developed a distinctive style for setting secular texts, particularly in his art songs. His Songs of Edmund Waller for tenor and piano includes “Go, Lovely Rose”, which received the 2005 Ned Rorem Award from the Diana Barnhart American Song Competitions. He has enjoyed frequent collaborations with the New York Virtuoso Singers under the direction of Harold Rosenbaum, which gave premiere performances of half a dozen of his works, including two large-scale a cappella settings of war poems by Wilfred Owen, Dulce et decorum est (2004) and Mental Cases (2009). His setting of In the Bleak Midwinter received shared second prize in the 2010 NYVS composition competition and received its premiere performance in 2011. His setting Shakespeare Sonnets have received performances by NYVS and the University of South Carolina.
His works for keyboard include a Sonata for Piano and a set of student Etudes. His limited organ skills inspired a collection of pieces for manuals and simple pedal, mostly arrangements of hymns and chant tunes.
A baritone, Richard has sung with some of the most prestigious choral groups in the Washington area, from chamber ensembles, such as Musikanten, the Woodley Ensemble, and Chantry to symphonic choruses, such as the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He has been involved in the production of nearly a dozen CD recordings by these and other groups—including world premiere recordings of works by Russell Woollen, Robert Evett, Thomas Beveridge, and Alexander Knaifel. He has participated in four European choir tours.
A native of Washington State, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from Seattle Pacific University and holds a Master of Liturgical Music degree from Catholic University of America. Despite roots in the Pacific Northwest, he has spent half his life in northern Virginia and considers himself an adopted Southerner, though he usually escapes to the Seattle area sometime during Virginia’s hotter months.