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Alumni News: Class Years 1990-1999

Hugh O. Richardson Jr., Class of 1991, Passes Away

Wednesday, September 20, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Hugh O'Neal "Neal" Richardson, Jr., 51, of St. Louis, MO, born December 17, 1965 in Montgomery, AL, died Friday afternoon, September 8, 2017 at his home. Music and faith were at the heart of Neal's life. His musical gifts developed early through piano performance and music composition. He graduated from Stanhope Elmore High School, Millbrook, AL, attended Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN and transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, TN where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in 1991. In high school and during his undergraduate years he traveled through the US and Europe, performing with the Continental Singers and Jeremiah People. He went on to earn a Master's Degree from Baylor University in Waco, TX in 1994 and pursued doctoral studies at the University of Cincinnati's College Conservatory of Music. His academic work focused on piano performance and music theory, but it was as an accompanist and music director for the musical theater program at Cincinnati that Neal found a passion for theater music that would grow to a central passion in his professional life.Neal taught at Cincinnati College Conservatory, Northern Kentucky University, and served as Music Director at Webster University in St. Louis since 1999, where he taught core musical theater classes, coached singers, and served as musical director for conservatory productions, some of his favorites being The Spitfire Grill, OKLAHOMA!, Carousel, Dogfight, Spring Awakening, No, No, Nanette, Pippin, 42nd Street, Violet, Nine, Into the Woods, A New Brain, and Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris. His manuscript, Excavating the Song, is treasured by performers around the world. Neal took great pleasure in his work with younger musical theater performers as music director for The Muny Teens performing ensemble and leading youth musical theater programs at Stages St. Louis. His coaching and teaching lives on through the countless students with whom he had the pleasure to work.Neal was a performer in his own right in a broad range of genres, from early music to contemporary. He was an expert in cabaret performance, attending the St. Louis Cabaret Conference, music directing shows in St. Louis and New York City, accompanying New York artists in local performances, and performing his acclaimed solo show, Pennies from Heaven, in 2015.Neal is the composer and lyricist for many original musicals produced by the St. Louis Rep, including My Father's Dragon, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Elves and the Shoemaker, and A Peter Rabbit Tale. As a freelance arranger with Hal Leonard, he was responsible for the vocal selections for over 20 shows as well as numerous solo piano arrangements. He has written and arranged for the Gateway Men's Chorus, CHARIS, Turtle Creek Chorale, Men Alive, The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, The Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, The Gaty Men's Chorus of Washington D.C., and many others.Neal was a passionate church musician and served as Minister of Music at Samuel United Church of Christ in Clayton, MO for 18 years. His heartfelt service improvisations and original choral compositions inspired the deepest connections with the congregation he served.Surviving are his life partner Ethan Edwards, mother Doris (Hanna) Richardson of Millbrook, AL, and cousins Wayne Richardson and Mark Richardson of Birmingham, AL and Theresa Simons of Montgomery, AL. He was preceded in death by his father, Hugh O. Richardson.Neal's family and friends were inspired by his open spirit, fearless optimism, unquenchable courage, and matchless strength in the face of physical challenges. His life was guided by serving each person he touched with love and compassion.

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