Pacific Symphony logo

Richard Kaufman

Principal Pops Conductor for Pacific Symphony

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 2017-18 concert season marks Kaufman’s 27th season as principal pops conductor of Pacific Symphony. He also holds the permanent title of pops conductor laureate with the Dallas Symphony, and soon begins his 12th season with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert series, “CSO at the Movies.” In May 2015, Kaufman made his conducting debut with the Boston Pops, substituting for John Williams at the Annual Pops Film Night, and last summer, Mr. Williams graciously invited him to share the podium at the annual Tanglewood Film Night.

Kaufman regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout both the United States and around the world including Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Liverpool, the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Indianapolis, San Diego 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 Amadeus, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Jaws, Home Alone, Psycho, Casablanca, The Bride of Frankenstein, Pirates of the Caribbean, Silverado, Star Trek and various silent films. Last summer, Kaufman conducted the San Diego Symphony in the Gala premiere performance with film of Michael Giacchino’s score for Star Trek Beyond. It was the first time a film has been presented outdoors in IMAX

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.

He has conducted for performers including John Denver, Andy Williams, Mary Martin, Nanette Fabray, Sir James Galway, Chris Botti, The Beach Boys, Peter, Paul and Mary, Robert Goulet, David Copperfield, The Righteous Brothers 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 (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 various 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.

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. 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 successful actress/singer who, for 2 ½ years, was a member of the cast of the National Tour of Mama Mia. She is a graduate (with honors) from Chapman University.

Kaufman is proud to be represented by Opus 3 Artists.