New Zealand cellist Richard Belcher has performed as a chamber musician and soloist across the United States, and internationally. Based in New York City, he is a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Enso String Quartet, with regular tours and performances in many of the major concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Library of Congress. Richard is also principal cellist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO), and has appeared at many festivals, including St Bart’s, Festival d’Aix en Provence, Prussia Cove, Madeline Island, Campos do Jordao International Winter Festival, SummerFest La Jolla, and the San Miguel de Allende International Chamber Music Festival.
Active in both period music and contemporary repertoire, Richard has taken part in many live and prerecorded radio and internet broadcasts, in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Richard enjoys teaching, and has served as Adjunct Faculty at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, and is currently on the faculty of the Adult Chamber Music Camp at the Interlochen Arts Academy.
Richard moved to the United States in 1998 to study with Aldo Parisot at Yale University, and it was there in 1999 that he co-founded the Enso String Quartet, with violinist and fellow student Maureen Nelson. His other principal teachers include Norman Fischer, Marc Johnson, and Alexander Ivashkin.
Richard plays an N.F Vuillaume cello made in 1856, and is married to the violinist Cece Belcher.
Richard: My first lessons in music were with my mother, who started teaching me piano when I was six. When I was eight, I joined the Christchurch Cathedral Choir, singing all sorts of amazing music, spanning five centuries. That was something I really loved at the time, and am so grateful for now. Without really knowing it, I was absorbing a huge amount of music. We had choir practice each morning before school, and sang in public five days a week for six years. I think being exposed to so much music at that age really started my love of music, and by the time I had turned eleven, it seemed very natural to start playing a string instrument. I’m lucky I was never pushed into practicing by my parents or teachers – I just loved playing, and I have never thought of practicing and performing as anything other than a joy and a privilege.
One specific memory I have was the profound effect of hearing the local symphony orchestra in Christchurch performing a piece I had never heard before: Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. I found the slow movement absolutely astounding and overwhelming.
Chamber music has always been special to me, and from high school to the present day, it has been through chamber music that I’ve come to meet some of my closest friends. It’s a special thing to be able to share something unspoken, both with my fellow musicians on stage (or in rehearsal,) and with members of an audience. Founding the Enso String Quartet has been incredibly rewarding, and something I’m very proud of. We’ve had some fantastic experiences playing around the world, and we’ve had some humbling accolades too. Being nominated for a Grammy was a highlight, as was touring New Zealand this past year, where I was so happy to play for family members who had never heard us before.