Educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Richard Shephard was for 19 years Head Master of the Minster School in York. Prior to that he had taught in Salisbury and was a member of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. He served as Chamberlain of York Minster and for 11 years was Director of Development, responsible for raising the significant sums required for the restoration and conservation of the historic fabric of York Minster, until retiring in 2014. He is currently a Lay Member of the Chapter of York. He is also a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Music at the University of York and a member of the University’s Court.
In parallel with the above, he has continued to write a considerable amount of music for a variety of forces. His operas St Nicholas and Good King Wenceslas are performed regularly in the United States and his liturgical work is sung by church and cathedral choirs around the world. He has received commissions from the Three Choirs Festival, the Southern Cathedrals Festival, and many choral societies, schools and cathedrals. He was the composer of the score for the acclaimed millennium production of the York Mystery Plays which took place in York Minster; again in 2016 he composed and directed the music for the York Minster Mystery Plays.
For his musical and other works he has been honoured with a Lambeth Doctorate of Music, the Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music, and honorary doctorates from the University of the South, Sewanee Tennessee and the University of York. His work has been recognised by the City of York in the granting of Honorary Freedom of the City.
In June 2012, he was awarded an MBE for his services to music and education.