Born in Winchester, Richard Hillier attended The King’s School, Peterborough, singing as a chorister in the cathedral choir, before gaining a place to read Classics at St John's College Cambridge, where he sang in its world-famous choir, as well as in the University Chamber Choir. On leaving Cambridge, he travelled north to the University of Durham where he studied first for a PGCE and then for a PhD (in the writings of Arator, an obscure sixth-century Christian-Latin author), whilst also singing as a lay clerk in the cathedral choir and as soloist both in the university and throughout the north-east.
In 1986 Richard took up a post as Classics Teacher at St Leonards School, St Andrews, before returning to Durham in 1987 to teach at Durham School, as well as tutoring for the Open University. In 1991 he moved to Repton School as Head of Classics, becoming Housemaster of Latham House in 1997. When not teaching Classics, much of his time was spent producing drama, directing a total of six plays and musicals at Durham and seventeen at Repton.
In 2006 Richard was appointed Headmaster of The Oratory Preparatory School in Oxfordshire and in 2010 became Headmaster of The Yehudi Menuhin School, an independent specialist music school, supported by the Department for Education through the Music and Dance Scheme. He is currently Chairman of the Music and Dance Scheme residential schools (which include such schools as The Royal Ballet School, Wells Cathedral School and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester).
Richard still sings as a freelance baritone soloist and continues to be actively involved in academic research (with a new article on baptism in sixth-century Rome appearing in 2012). He has been married since 1984 to Elaine, who is currently employed in the role of examinations officer at the Yehudi Menuhin School. They have two grown-up sons (one teaching classics in Edinburgh, the other studying composition as a postgraduate at the RCM) and a Parson Russell Terrier.