James’ love of choral music dates back to his childhood as a tenor in the school chapel choir, where he performed solos, arranged music and conducted the choir. While at University in Adelaide, he was Choirmaster at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church and later St Francis Xavier Cathedral.
James studied conducting with Carl Crossin OAM and Graham Abbott and was a participant in the Symphony Australia Conductor Program. In 2011 James won the prestigious Brian Stacey Award, a national prize for emerging conductors. After which, James moved to Hamburg to work with Australian Conductor Simon Hewett and operatic maestro Donato Renzetti throughout Italy. James won the Toldra Conducting Competition in Terrassa, Spain in 2013, and in 2014 took up a position as assistant conductor at the Royal Ballet in London’s Covent Garden. While in London, James was Choirmaster at the Central Foundation Boys School based at the John Wesley Chapel. Since 2016 James has been the artistic director and principal conductor of the Adelaide Chamber Orchestra.
James has always balanced a passion for conducting and singing, performing as a soloist and chorister with Opera Australia, Cantillation, Adelaide Chamber Singers, SBS Youth Orchestra, Australian National University Choral Society, Adelaide University Choral Society, Victorian Opera and the State Opera of South Australia. Between 2007 and 2013 James was a cast member of the Phantom of the Opera World Tour, performing throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
James enjoys singing and working with singers in a variety of musical styles, and has been engaged to perform diverse repertoire including, the Australian premiere of The Light in the Piazza at Sydney's Lyric Theatre, Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Perth Festival, a principal role in Richard Gill’s original pantomime Cinderella for Victorian Opera and as a soloist for Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah.
“Perth Symphonic Chorus will forever pay homage to founder Dr Margaret Pride and the lasting legacy she has left. I am truly grateful to Margaret and the Choir for appointing me to this position, and for the opportunity to continue the traditions of community singing, quality music making, and of course the annual Messiah.”