Richard Jennings

Composer Librettist Playwright Lyricist

Richard Jennings has been actively composing music since his first original song at age sixteen. After a successful career as a singer-songwriter in the late 60s and early 70s, he went back to music school on full scholarship. On the cutting edge of electronic music, he composed in an early Moog studio at Michigan State University where he received a faculty appointment as an undergrad to teach the electronic music program. Jennings became quite active in the New Music/Avant Garde scene, performing and also conducting vocal and instrumental groups. At the University of Michigan School of Music for graduate work, Jennings was a popular performer of new music as he studied composition and voice with Pulitzer Prize winners and international opera stars.

After grad school, Jennings received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michigan Council for the Arts to be Composer In Residence for a school district where he composed music for every ensemble (K-12), conducted and performed. His two multi media space operas from this period were performed in planetariums, art museums and lofts to critical acclaim.

In the 80s, Richard Jennings moved to San Diego, where he began his career in professional theatre, and then Los Angeles. He composed for several Tony Award winning theatres during this period. Jennings’ music was showcased in feature stories in The Los Angeles Times. He received The Dramalogue Critics Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Theatre” and was active composing for commercial films, television movies, Disney and others.

The 90s found Jennings settling into the life of a music professor. He served on the faculties of University of San Diego and San Diego State University. Following his wife to Phoenix, he was the Director of the Electronic Music Program at Scottsdale College, teaching composition, studio recording and voice. Jennings also composed scores for PBS documentaries and commercial films.

Jennings was composer for the Southwest Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare Sedona Festival in the Phoenix area for the first ten years of the millennium. He composed scores for twenty eight of their productions. 

Now living in Berkeley, Jennings has become an integral participant in the exciting Bay Area theatre scene. His original musicals have received full production runs, he’s contributed to several successful reviews and he composes scores for highly acclaimed play productions. Continuing to compose for film, documentaries he’s scored are now in the national rotation for PBS. Richard Jennings is the Artistic Director and a founder of Musical Cafe (, a musical developmental program that has launched some of the Bay Area’s most successful new musicals.        


Composer of over 20 productions of original musicals, over 50 scores for plays (including 30 Shakespeare).

Credits from Tony Award winning theatres, film, network TV, Disney and PBS.