Richard Sparks is a conductor with a wide range of experience in both the academic and professional fields. He continues to be active as a guest conductor, workshop leader, and clinician.
Sparks founded Seattle Pro Musica in 1973 and in seven seasons conducted over 70 different programs with three ensembles. From 1978 to 1985 he was Principal Conductor of the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, Washington. His academic career began at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts from 1980-83, and then became Director of Choral Activities at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) and led the Choir of the West from 1983-2001 He also conducted the Seattle Symphony Chorale for four years, preparing them for nine recordings on the Delos label including a Grammy-nominated recording of Hanson's Lament of Beowulf. He founded Choral Arts Northwest and was artistic director for 11 years, making three CDs on the Loft/Gothic label. Sparks was also Artistic Director of Pro Coro Canada, a professional chamber choir in Edmonton, Alberta, from 1999-2011.
Sparks was Professor of Music and Chair of the Division of Conducting & Ensembles at the University of North Texas for 10 years. Many of his performances can be found on YouTube, including a Vivaldi Gloria with over two million views, Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, and the 1725 version of the St. John Passion. Sparks led the Collegium Singers in four performances at the Boston Early Music Festival, one performance at the Berkely Early Music Festival and the 2016 NCCO Conference.
Sparks worked with the Swedish Radio Choir in 2002, 2007, and 2008, including preparing the Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem for a performance with Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic which is DVD with BIS Records. He has also guest conducted the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, and he Anchorage Music Festival among many others.