Dr. Richard Gillis

In the Faculty:
Brass Area Coordinator

B.Mus. (Saskatchewan), M.Mus, D.M.A. (Michigan)
Committee Member: Music Education Committee, Ensemble Committee

In the Community:

Artistic Director, Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra

Tache 435, (204) 474-6215, richard.gillis@umanitoba.ca

Professional Bio:

A versatile performer and conductor, Richard Gillis began his musical studies in rural Saskatchewan where he played in the school band and in his father’s dance band. In high school, he performed in the Saskatchewan Youth Band and studied at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts.

Richard then went to Saskatoon where he attended the University of Saskatchewan, organized his own musical ensembles, and performed with several groups, including the Saskatoon Symphony. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree, Mr. Gillis was instrumental in founding the NewWest Brass Quintet with whom he recorded an album and performed over 300 concerts and broadcasts throughout Western Canada.

After studying in several summer programs (including the Banff Orchestra and the Canadian Brass), Richard was accepted to the University of Michigan where he earned his Master’s and Doctorate degrees in trumpet performance. While in Michigan, Richard studied with Armando Ghitalla and in his final year was a member of the University of Michigan faculty brass quintet.

In 1990 Dr. Gillis came to the U of Manitoba as a sabbatical replacement where he conducted the Wind Ensemble. He was hired to direct the U of Manitoba Jazz Ensembles in 1991. Since that time the U of Manitoba Jazz Orchestra has toured many locations (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Western Ontario, Minnesota, North Dakota), France (1997 and 1998), Germany (2004), and has recorded three CD’s.

From the start Dr. Gillis has worked toward increasing the presence of Jazz at the U of Manitoba and in the early 1990’s, he presented a proposal for a Jazz Studies Program. Through the leadership of Dr. Dale Lonis, Richard was able to be instrumental in defining the role and personality of a new Director of Jazz at the Faculty of Music, and they found a perfect fit with Mr. Steve Kirby in 2003.

Since coming to Winnipeg in 1990, Richard has performed as a recitalist with a variety of groups including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Music Baroque, Groundswell, Papa Mambo, the Ron Paley Big Band, the Winnipeg Wind Ensemble (which he also conducted) several brass quintets, and with a number of small Jazz groups and individuals. Richard has recorded eight CD’s with Icelandic guitarist, Björn Thoroddsen who he has performed with in Iceland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Toronto and Edmonton.  Performances include recordings for radio and television, Jazz Festival performances, and the IAJE (International Association for Jazz Education) conference. In October 2006 they performed at the Lincoln Centre in New York.

In 1997 Richard and saxophonist Sasha Boychuk formed the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra. This ensemble has presented a concert series since that time, featuring Winnipeg’s top Jazz musicians performing original and classic big band material with guest artists from around the world. With Dr. Richard Gillis as the Artistic Director, the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra has become an established part of Winnipeg’s Jazz music scene.
Recently Richard recorded and released Devotion, a CD of trumpet chamber music (mostly original compositions), and wrote Melodic Studies in the Less Familiar, a study book for trumpet.







Morgana's Revenge, 2012

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Room T435
Desautel Faculty of Music
University of Manitoba
136 Dafoe Rd.