James Gilchrist 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. A master of English music, he has performed Britten’s Church Parables in St Petersburg, London and at the Aldeburgh Festival, Nocturne with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and War Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Equally at home in Baroque repertoire, he recently performed Handel’s L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato with Stuttgart Bachakademie and at Teatro Real, Madrid; Solomon with Les Violons du Roy; Semele with Concerto Köln; Hercules with the English Concert; Ode to St Cecilia with Basel Chamber Orchestra and Messiah with Boston Handel & Haydn Society. James is famed for his interpretations of Bach, and has recently performed Christmas Oratorio with the Academy of Ancient Music, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and further afield in with Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto and across Europe with Windsbacher Knabenchor. In the 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 reviewer noted, ‘he hasn’t become a one-man Evangelist industry by chance’.
In 2017, James celebrates 20 years of collaboration with pianist Anna Tilbrook. Their recent performances together include a weekend celebrating Vaughan Williams at St John’s Smith Square, and a new project for the Wigmore Hall - Schumann and the English Romantics - pairing Schumann song cycles with new commissions from leading composers Sally Beamish, Julian Philips and Jonathan Dove.
James’ impressive discography includes the title role in Albert Herring and Vaughan Williams’ A Poisoned Kiss for Chandos, St John Passion with the AAM, 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.
Recent engagements include performances with The King’s Consort at the Enescu Festival in Bucharest; a recital with Julius Drake at the Concertgebouw; and Haydn’s Creation with Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia and in a new staged production for Garsington Opera and Ballet Rambert, as well as appearing as the Evangelist in St Matthew Passion across Europe with the Monteverdi Choir.
This season, James tours to Tokyo with Bach Collegium Japan for a recording and performance of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, and appears with Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. James can be seen as the Evangelist in St Matthew Passion with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and in St John Passion at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. He returns to Haydn’s great Creation for performances with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Denmark, and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He will also appear in the role of Reverend Horace Adams in Britten’s Peter Grimes for Bergen National Opera and the Edinburgh International Festival, and appears at the Lammermuir, Roman River, Hatfield House and Oxford Lieder festivals. Finally, James also curates a concert series of Bach and Purcell for the Academy of Ancient Music.