‘May he be composing for the heavenly choir’: York Minster leads the tributes to Richard Shephard

21 Feb 2021 @ 1.31 pm
| News

The renowned composer Richard Shephard has died, aged 71.

Dr Shephard, former chamberlain and director of development of York Minster, was a key figure in the city for 36 years.

He came to York in 1985 as headteacher of the Minster School. Many of his greatest choral works were composed in York.

Prayers were said at York Minster today for Dr Shephard.

Speaking on the 10am Zoom service this morning, the Revd Michael Smith, Canon Pastor at York Minster, said: “I am sorry to say that Richard Shephard, who most of you will know, died yesterday. He had been very ill for some time.

“He has been a part of the Minster Community for well over 30 years. He was headmaster of the Minster School for many years, then he worked for the York Minster Fund and helped to raise well over £10,000,000 for the Great East Window amongst much else.

“He has sung in the choir and was Chamberlain for many years helping to lead Choral Evensong each day. In recent years he has been a member of Chapter.
“He was also a prolific composer of church music and is internationally renowned for that.

He loved York Minster, his home is covered with paintings of it he collected over many years. We will miss him. We surround him with our love and prayers today and give thanks for his creativity, loyalty, friendship, humour and humanity.”

‘Brilliant, kind and generous’

Much loved: Dr Shephard

Tributes have been pouring in to a wonderful man and a hugely talented and influential composer, particularly of church music.

The York Minster Choir said on Twitter: “RIP Dr Richard Shephard MBE. Variously composer, headmaster, fundraiser, member of chapter, trustee, educationalist.”

Former Lord Mayor of York Sonja Crisp said: “So incredibly sad to hear Dr Richard Shephard MBE has died. A kind and generous man.

“He was amongst many other things head of the Minster School York and a brilliant composer. A good friend and support to me in troubled times. He will be very sadly missed.”

Former City of York Council leader Steve Galloway said: “A former school head, Richard dedicated his later years to the York Minster Fund raising literally millions to secure the fabric of York’s most iconic building.

“One of the nicest people that I ever met.”

Tim Ruffer, head of publishing at the Royal School of Church Music, said: “Very sad to let you know of the passing of my very good friend Dr Richard Shephard FRSCM after a long illness. May he be composing for the heavenly choir.”

In 2012 Dr Shephard. was made an MBE for services to music and education. He was also immortalised on York Minster, when a grotesque was created in his likeness in 2015.

Best known for his choral works, he has written operas, musicals and music for television.

He also wrote the for the York Millennium Mystery Plays and was musical director for the 2016 York Minster Mystery Plays.