James studied Music at Exeter University, where he developed specialisms in choral conducting and musical theatre. He held the posts of Senior Choral Scholar at the university chapel, conductor of the University Singers and gained a place in the university’s foremost chamber choir, Cantors, which specialised in singing unaccompanied Renaissance polyphony. Concurrently, James was accompanist and later Musical Director for Exeter University Footlights and was awarded an exceptional Festival Judges’ Commendation for Musical Direction at the National Student Drama Festival. After graduating, Cantors was reformed as the Cantores Early Music Chamber Choir and the alumni still convene whenever they can to perform and record music by such pre-eminent composers as Byrd, Tallis, Josquin and Victoria. The choir’s most recent recording is of the complete sacred music and chansons of Philip van Wilder for the Toccata Classics label.
A love of church music has enabled James to sing and conduct in some of England’s finest churches, including Westminster, Bath and St Alban’s abbeys and the cathedrals of Salisbury, Gloucester and Christ Church. Before moving to Yateley with his family in 2011 he was, for nine years, Director of Music for St Mary’s Church, Walton-on-Thames, and for five years, a committee member of the Guildford Area of the Royal School of Church Music. During that time, he led workshops for the RSCM’s Voice for Life training programme, was accompanist for the Walton and Oatlands Choral Society and deputised as an accompanist and conductor for a number of other choirs. All the while, his work in musical theatre continued and earned him three National Operatic and Dramatic Association awards, most notably for productions with the Walton & Weybridge Amateur Operatic Society.
For over twenty years, James has worked as a music educator and run highly regarded music departments in both maintained and independent schools. While at Tomlinscote School in Frimley, he was invited by the Camberley-based charity ‘Disability Initiative’ to rehearse and direct a specially amassed choir of staff, clients and young people for Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to celebrate ten years of her patronage. In January 2016, James took up the post of Director of Music at Frensham Heights and, in September 2021, became the school’s first Head of the Performance, Maths and Enterprise Faculty.
Having been Yateley Choral Society’s rehearsal accompanist since 2013, James is delighted to be continuing their musical journey with them as their Musical Director.