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James Gilchrist


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, Masaaki Suzuki and the late Richard Hickox. A master of English music, he has performed Britten’s Church Parables in St Petersburg, in London and at the Aldeburgh Festival, Nocturne with the NHK Symphony in Tokyo and War Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany. Equally at home in Baroque repertoire, appearances include 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, Elijah with the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, Madrid and Bach Collegium Japan, Hercules with the English Concert, Ode to St Cecilia with Basel Chamber Orchestra and Messiah with Boston Handel & Haydn Society. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and the St John and St Matthew Passion feature prominently in his schedule, and he is celebrated as perhaps the finest Evangelist of his generation; as one review noted, ‘he hasn’t become a one-man Evangelist industry by chance’.

In 2017, James celebrated 20 years of collaboration with pianist Anna Tilbrook with a recital in Oxford. 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. In the 2017/18 season, James and Anna returned to the Wigmore Hall for the third and final instalment of the series, with a programme of Schumann songs and a world premiere of a new work by Jonathan Dove.

James’ impressive discography includes recordings of Albert Herring (title role) and Vaughan Williams’ A Poisoned Kiss, and more recently Songs of Travel 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, the critically-acclaimed recordings of Schubert’s song cycles for Orchid Classics and a disc of Schumann song cycles for Linn Records.

James sang the role of Rev. Adams in Britten’s Peter Grimes with Bergen Philharmonic and Edward Gardner with performances at the Edinburgh International Festival. Further highlights include Haydn’s Creation for a staged production with Garsington Opera and Ballet Rambert, and last season with Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Elijah in Gothenberg with Goteborgs Symfoniker and Masaaki Suzuki, as well as appearances with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Denmark, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia, Spain, a series of concerts in Langeland with the pianist Julius Drake, a collaboration with the Academy of Ancient Music on a programme of Bach & Purcell, and a return to King’s College, Cambridge to perform St Matthew Passion as part of Stephen Cleobury’s final Easter week as Director of Music. Steering away from familiar styles, James recently worked with Eddie Parker’s Debussy Mirrored Ensemble with performances in York, Bristol and London. With a fusion of jazz, classical and improvisation the work was a celebration and creative response to Debussy’s work in the centenary of the composer’s death.

In the 2019-20 season includes further performances as Rev. Adams Peter Grimes with Bergen Philharmonic conducted by Edward Gardner, at both Den Norske Opera, Oslo, and Grieghallen in Bergen. Elsewhere in Norway, James opens the season with recitals as part of the Sunnmøre Chamber Music Festival in Volda. Further concert performances include joining Bach Collegium Japan and Masaaki Suzuki for a tour of Europe, as well as for performances of St Matthew Passion in Tokyo. He also sings St John Passion with the NDR Elbphilharmonie, Bach’s Mass in B minor at St John’s Smith Square, Messiah with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Christmas Oratorio with Stephen Layton and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Alongside pianist Anna Tilbrook, James will sing an all Schubert recital at the Oxford Lieder Festival, perform a recital at the Jacqueline du Pré building at Oxford University and will do a recital tour of Scotland in the New Year.

Last updated: Sep 2019