began his working life as a doctor, turning to a full-time career in music in 1996. His musical interest was fired at a young age, singing first as a chorister in the choir of New College, Oxford, and later as a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge.
James’ extensive concert repertoire has seen him perform in major concert halls throughout the world with conductors including Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Roger Norrington, Bernard Labadie, Harry Christophers, Harry Bicket and the late Richard Hickox. Recent highlights have included Britten’s Church Parables with performances in St Petersburg, London and at the Aldeburgh Festival, Handel’s L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Teatro Real, Madrid, Solomon with Les Violons du Roy, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri and Die Schöpfung at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Britten’s Nocturne with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and War Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. In J.S. Bach’s great Passions of St John and St Matthew, James works consistently at the highest level and is recognised as the finest Evangelist of his generation; as one recent BBC Proms reviewer noted, ‘he hasn’t become a one-man Evangelist industry by chance’.
A prolific and versatile recitalist, James enjoys imaginative and varied programming in collaborations with pianists Anna Tilbrook and Julius Drake, and harpist Alison Nicholls. Recent appearances include a Schubertiade weekend at St John Smith Square and Schwanengesang coupled with Beethoven An die Ferne Geliebte at the Wigmore Hall. James recently returned to the Wigmore Hall to begin his project with Anna Tilbrook, Schumann and the English Romantics, pairing Schumann song cycles with new commissions from leading composers, Sally Beamish, Julian Philips and Jonathan Dove, setting English poetry of the Romantic period.
James’ impressive discography includes the title role in Albert Herring and Vaughan Williams’ A Poisoned Kiss for Chandos, St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music, the Finzi song cycle Oh Fair To See, Elizabethan Lute Songs When Laura Smiles with Matthew Wadsworth, Leighton Earth Sweet Earth, Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge, Finzi songs and Britten’s Winter Words for Linn Records and the critically-acclaimed recordings of Schubert’s song cycles for Orchid Classics. James and Anna Tilbrook have recently released a new disc of Schumann song cycles for Linn Records.