Principal Horn of the Philharmonia Orchestra for twelve years, he is currently a member of the Nash Ensemble and a founder member of London Winds.
He has appeared at many of the world's most prestigious venues in the UK, Europe and the USA, and has worked with conductors such as Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Richard Slatkin, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Vasily Petrenko, Andrew Davis, and Mark Elder.
His extensive discography includes recordings of the Horn Concertos by Mozart, Malcolm Arnold, Reinhold Glière, Ethel Smyth, and Colin Matthews, as well as Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and chamber music for horn by Schumann, Schubert, and Poulenc. Recent releases include a Wigmore Live Disc of the Britten Canticles with Mark Padmore, Alexander Goehr's Horn Trio for NMC, Edward Gregson's Horn Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic for Chandos, and SeaEagle for NMC featuring works by British composers composed for Richard Watkins.
Richard Watkins has a long association with Aldeburgh Music, first performing Britten's Serenade with Sir Peter Pears in 1983. Since then he has appeared regularly as soloist and recitalist, performing concertos by Colin Matthews and Oliver Knussen as well as performances of Britten's works for solo horn, the Serenade and Canticles. He has been actively involved with the Britten- Pears School, coaching and giving masterclasses. He has also recorded Britten's Serenade with Allan Clayton and Aldeburgh Strings and recently directed the inaugural Britten-Pears Brass Week.
In recital, Richard Watkins regularly performs with singers such as John Mark Ainsley, Ian Bostridge, and Mark Padmore, and with pianists Barry Douglas, Julius Drake, Paul Lewis, Roger Vignoles, and Ian Brown.
Closely associated with promoting contemporary music for the horn, Richard Watkins has given premières of concertos by Peter Maxwell-Davies, Nigel Osborne, Magnus Lindberg, Dominic Muldowney, Nicola LeFanu, and Colin and David Matthews. Recent premieres have included Colin Matthews's Horn Concerto and Trio, horn quintets by James MacMillan, David Matthews, and Mark-Anthony Turnage and horn trios by Huw Watkins, Alexander Goehr, and Gerald Barry.
Richard Watkins holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn Playing at the Royal Academy of Music where he is also a Fellow.