Where are they now? Early scholar Richard Pressley on life

Many of us scholars show a passion and flare for words. Richard Pressley, Davies-Jackson scholar in 1994, is driven by a different muse: music. Here Richard discusses where life has taken him since he attended St. John’s College, Cambridge. 

Richard after he finished his first term at John's

Richard after he finished his first term at John’s

After finishing my B.A. in Music at St. John’s in 1996, I returned to the U.S. and began my Ph.D in Music Composition at the University of Minnesota on a Graduate School Fellowship. My love for new British art, which I picked up in England, was actually a big reason I looked at Minneapolis.

In 2001, I received a Dissertation Fellowship to work on my thesis and went to Karlsruhe, Germany in January 2002 to visit a friend I’d made at St. John’s. I stayed for 8 months as a guest-student at the Musikhochshule, then went to the Darmstadt Summer Course in New Music. I received my M.A. from Cambridge at this time too.  After returning to the U.S. to Minneapolis once more, I married my lovely wife, Johanna (a violist), and finished my Ph.D.

Richard with parents outside Senate House after finishing his degree

Richard with parents outside Senate House after finishing his degree

From 2006-2009, I was Assistant Professor of Music at The Master’s College near Los Angeles, then returned to my parent’s home in Indianapolis to temporarily assume in-home care of my elderly father.  In 2009 I was Adjunct Professor of Music at Indiana Wesleyan University, and the following year Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Ball State University.

In 2011, Johanna and I decided to move nearer her parents (in South Carolina), so we moved to Asheville, North Carolina for seven months, then once more to Columbia, South Carolina, where we built a new home.  I worked hourly positions during those two years, and freelanced as both a composer and musician.  This summer, I was hired as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Charleston Southern University, Johanna gave birth to our baby boy, Silas, in September, and now we are currently in the process of selling our house in Columbia and buying a house in Charleston where we intend to stay put.

Richard with Johanna

Richard with Johanna

During all this time, too, I’ve been very active as a composer, researcher, and musician.  I have been blessed with many performances of my music — in seven countries now (four continents) — and I have regularly presented on music topics at conferences and special seminars across the U.S.

Richard with son Silas

The Davies Jackson scholarship to Cambridge enabled both my worldview and my intellect to truly take a ‘quantum leap.’  I learned so much, saw and experienced so much, changed so much, and genuinely grew so much as a scholar, individual, and artist during my two years.

I was shown a whole new perspective on my discipline, and the world around me abruptly broadened in ways I hadn’t anticipated — not only from my coursework, but also from all the wonderful friends I made, as well as all the numerous and fantastic experiences I accumulated.  It not only shaped me at the time, it helped shape my future in ways I couldn’t possibly have predicted — it still shapes me.  It was such a wonderful challenge!  A glorious ordeal!  Not easy by any stretch, but rewarding in so very many ways!

If you would like to read more about me or listen to my music, please visit my website rpressley.com.


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