Born in Dallas, Texas, Richard Runnels grew up in Cincinatti. He is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy where he studied with Norman Schweikert. Richard attended Indiana University where he was a student of Philip Farkas and also the Salzburg Mozarteum where he was in the class of Michael Höltzel.
At the age of 21 Richard was engaged by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra where he played third and first horn. He also performed with the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera as well as with the international chamber music group ENSEMBLE I. He has given solo can chmaber concerts throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia, USA, Caribbean and Australia including at many important festivals.
Richard first went to Australia in 1976 as Artist-in-Residence at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. In 1978 he was invited to become principal horn of the Elizabethan Melbourne Orchestra (now the State Orchestra of Victoria).
He made his conducting debut for the Australian Ballet in 1986 and his opera conducting career began at the Soleto Festival in Italy in 1987. He is the founder and director of Melbourne Windpower (also recording artists on Move Records - their first album (MD3082) was receive excellent critical acclaim) and was muscial advsior and training conductor for an ABCTV chldren's series 'His Master's Ghost'.