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 2021-22 concert season marks his 31st season as principal pops conductor of Orange County's Pacific Symphony. He holds the permanent title of pops conductor laureate with the Dallas Symphony and is in his 17th season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series, CSO at the Movies, conducting classic and contemporary film music, as well as classical music used in motion pictures.
He regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout the United States and around the world, including New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, San Diego, Indianapolis, Utah, Edmonton, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin. Kaufman has conducted throughout Australia, including sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House.
In May 2015, Kaufman made his conducting debut with the Boston Pops, substituting for John Williams at the Annual Pops Film Night. In 2016, Williams graciously invited him to share the podium at the annual Tanglewood Film Night, and in 2018, he again joined Williams in concerts with the Chicago Symphony. In 2016, he conducted the live performance of Michael Giacchino's score for "Star Trek Beyond" with the San Diego Symphony, accompanying the film in its gala world premiere. It was the first time a film was presented outdoors in IMAX. In September 2018, he conducted special Boston Pops-style concerts with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig.
With a lifelong passion for film music, Kaufman often conducts programs featuring live performances of full scores while the film is shown, including "Amadeus," "Star Wars: A New Hope," "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," "Jaws," "Jurassic Park," E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Home Alone," "The Wizard of Oz," "Casablanca," "Bride of Frankenstein," "Psycho," "Fantasia," "On the Waterfront," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Singin' in the Rain," "Vertigo," "Silverado," "Star Trek" (2009), "Star Trek Beyond" and various silent films.
In April 2014, at the Virginia Arts Festival, Kaufman conducted the world premiere performance of Stewart Copeland's score for the 1925 silent classic "Ben Hur." Following the premiere, he joined composer-soloist Stewart Copeland in performances of this work with the Chicago Symphony, Pacific Symphony and the Luxembourg Philharmonie.
He received the 1993 Grammy Award for best pop instrumental performance for a disc he conducted with the Nuremberg Symphony. His recordings include "The High and the Mighty" (Varese Sarabande) with the London Symphony Orchestra. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, this CD features music from classic and contemporary films about flying. His other recordings include film music performed by the Brandenburg Philharmonic in Berlin, a second recording with the Nuremberg Symphony celebrating the 100th anniversary of motion pictures, and two critically acclaimed CDs with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducting the film music of Alfred Newman and Victor Young.
He has conducted for performers including John Denver, Andy Williams, Amy Grant, Mary Martin, Nanette Fabray, Herb Alpert and Lani Hall, Stewart Copeland, Martin Short, Sandi Patty, Eileen Ivers, Juliet Prowse, Sir James Galway, Diana Krall, Chris Botti, Michael W. Smith, the Pointer Sisters, Arturo Sandoval, the Beach Boys, Monica Mancini, Peter Paul and Mary, Patty Austin, Robert Goulet, David Copperfield, Davis Gaines, the Righteous Brothers, Martin Short, Jim Brickman, the band America and Art Garfunkel. As a violinist, Kaufman performed on numerous film and television scores, including "Jaws," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Saturday Night Fever" and "Animal House." He has recorded with artists including John Denver, Burt Bacharach, Neil Sedaka, the Carpenters, Neil Diamond 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 all MGM television and animation projects. 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 television series "In the Heat of the Night," composed songs with actor-producer Carroll O'Connor. Kaufman also conducted scores for films including "Guarding Tess" and "Jungle to Jungle."
In addition, he has coached various actors in musical roles, including Jack Nicholson, Dudley Moore, Tom Hanks, Armand Assante, David Ogden Stiers and Susan Sarandon.
Kaufman has served as music director and conductor for numerous musicals. His first assignment (at age 23) was as conductor for the national tour of "Sweet Charity" starring Juliet Prowse. He conducted the first national tours of "Company" (for Hal Prince) and "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (for Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival). For the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Operas, he was music director and conductor for musicals including "Wonderful Town" (starring Nanette Fabray), "Irma La Douce," "The Sound of Music" (for which he was nominated by the San Francisco Theater Critics for outstanding music direction), and "Guys and Dolls" (starring Milton Berle).
In April 2012, Kaufman received the Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, California State University at Northridge. While a student, he composed the university's alma mater and fight song. He is on the board of the Film Music Foundation and 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 bachelor's degree in music from California State University at Northridge. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Gayle, a former dancer in film, television and on Broadway.