Richard Kaufman

Richard Kaufman has devoted much of his musical life to conducting and supervising music for film and television productions, as well as performing film and classical music in concert halls and on recordings. The 2015-16 concert season marks Kaufman’s 25th season as Principal Pops Conductor of Pacific Symphony. He also holds the permanent title of Pops Conductor Laureate with the Dallas Symphony, and is in his tenth season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series, “CSO at the Movies.”  This past May, Kaufman made his conducting debut with the Boston Pops, stepping in on short notice for John Williams.

Kaufman regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout both the United States and around the world including Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, London, Calgary, Edmonton, Liverpool, the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Rotterdam, and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In addition to conducting “traditional” concert presentations, Kaufman often leads performances of complete film scores in concert, synchronizing the music to the actual film as it is shown on the screen above the orchestra.  These legendary film titles include Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Psycho, Casablanca, The Bride of Frankenstein, and Pirates of the Caribbean, Home Alone, On the Waterfront, and Star Trek.  He has also conducted numerous silent films in concert. Kaufman has conducted for performers including John Denver, Andy Williams, Mary Martin, Nanette Fabray, Sir James Galway, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, The Pointer Sisters, The Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary, Robert Goulet, David Copperfield, The Righteous Brothers, and Art Garfunkel.

Kaufman received the 1993 GRAMMY Award in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Performance.  In addition to his two recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra, he has recorded CDs with the Nuremberg Symphony, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Brandenburg Philharmonic in Berlin. 

As a violinist, Kaufman performed on numerous film and television scores including Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Saturday Night Fever and (in a moment of desperation) Animal House. He has recorded with artists including John Denver, Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, The Carpenters, and Ray Charles. 

Kaufman joined the music department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 1984 as music coordinator, and for the next 18 years supervised music for MGM. He received two Emmy Award nominations, one for the animated series, The Pink Panther, in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition, and another for Outstanding Original Song co-authored for the series, All Dogs Go to Heaven. For the MGM television series In the Heat of the Night, Kaufman composed songs with actor/producer Carroll O’Connor. He conducted the scores for films including Guarding Tess and Jungle to Jungle. As a unique part of his career in film, Kaufman has coached various actors in musical roles including Jack Nicholson, Dudley Moore, and Tom Hanks.

Kaufman has served as music director and conductor for numerous musicals, including a national tour of Sweet Charity starring Juliet Prowse, the first national tours of Company (for Hal Prince), and Two Gentlemen of Verona(for the New York Shakespeare Festival). He has conducted numerous musicals for the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Operas (for one of these, he was nominated by the San Francisco Theater Critics for Outstanding Music Direction). 

In 2012, Kaufman received the “Distinguished Alumni Award” from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). While a student at CSUN, he composed the University’s Alma Mater and Fight Song, and was the keynote speaker for the CSUN Honors Convocation Ceremony. He has appeared as a guest speaker at various universities including USC, Georgia and the California State Universities at Northridge and Fullerton. He is a member of the Music Advisory Board of the Young Musicians Foundation. 

Born in Los Angeles, Kaufman began violin studies at age 7, played in the Peter Meremblum California Junior Symphony, and was a member of the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. He attended the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood in the fellowship program, and earned a B.A. in Music from California State University, Northridge. Kaufman lives in Southern California with his wife, Gayle, a former dancer in film, television, and on Broadway. His daughter, Whitney is a graduate (with honors) from Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and for 2 ½ years was a member of the cast of the National Tour of Mamma Mia.

Kaufman is proud to be represented by Opus 3 Artists.


Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.