The English counter-tenor, choral conductor and composer, James Burton, was educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School (where he was Head Chorister in 1987) and Radley College. He read music at St John's College Cambridge where he was a Choral Scholar, and he completed a masters degree in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied orchestral and opera conducting with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. While still a student enjoyed a professional singing career giving countless performances as a member of The Monteverdi Choir (including participation in their Bach Cantata Pilgrimage in 2000), The Sixteen and Polyphony.
Since completing his conducting studies, James Burton has developed into one of Britainís leading young conductors and, as well as working in operatic and orchestral fields, he has earned a formidable reputation for his work with choirs. He has been engaged as a music director, conductor and chorus master for a wide variety of groups and projects, and has also worked as a composer and arranger, notably for American folk singer Arlo Guthrie.
In 2002 James Burton became the Music Director of Schola Cantorum of Oxford, the chamber choir established in 1960 and now well known which is made up of singers who are studying at Oxford University. He is the longest serving conductor of the choir, and over the last 12 years, he has conducted the choir in countless concert performances, international tours, conducted recordings on the Hyperion label and appeared in BBC TV films about British composers made by John Bridcut. He oversees the day to day musical life of the choir, taking all the rehearsals as well as training the singers and being the mentor for the conducting scholar.
Between 2002 and 2009 James Burton was Choral Director at the Hallé Orchestra, and became Music Director of the Hallé Youth Choir when it was founded in 2003. Hae has received outstanding critical coverage for his work with Mark Elder, the Hallé Choir and the Hallé Youth Choir which he founded in 2003. He prepared both choirs for the award winning recording of Edward Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius which won the 2009 Gramaphone Choral Award. He has a long-standing association with the St Endellion Music Festivals in Cornwall, and became Music Director of the Easter Festival in 2007, succeeding Richard Hickox. At the 2012 festival he conducted the world premiere of his new composition The Convergence of the Twain. Scored for chorus, orchestra and baritone, this work is a setting of Thomas Hardy's poem of the same title and has been written in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
James is renowned for his choral conducting and has enjoyed guest invitations with the Gabrieli Consort, Netherlands Radio Choir, Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, Oxford Philomusica, Durham Sinfonia, BBC Singers and in summer 2008 he worked with the Choir of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the BBC Proms. His opera work has included Donizetti Imelda de Lambertazzi with Opera Rara and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and he is senior music staff at Garsington Opera where productions have included Ariadne auf Naxos, Arabella, The Rakeís Progress, Tchaikovskyís Cherevichki and Rimsky-Korsakovís Mayskaya Nochí.
His recent conducting engagements have included Don Giovanni and La Bohème at ENO, Cosi fan tutte at ETO, The Magic Flute for Garsington Opera at West Green, and the UK national tour of Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town (2012). Last autumn he worked at the Metropolitan Opera assisting on the American premiere of Nico Muhlyís Two Boys. In 2014 he has given debuts with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
In recent seasons James has conducted concerts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hallé Orchestra (including at a special concert to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Hallé Orchestra). He conducted Schola Cantorum of Oxford together with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the International Baroque Festival in Malta, and he also gave performances of Messiah with the Oxford Philomusica.
James is a published composer, and commissions have included the music for the 2010 World Equestrian Games opening ceremony, an orchestral album with the folk legend Arlo Guthrie and a large scale work for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. His most recent work was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery as part of its World War I commemorations, and a new carol will be premiered next year by the choir of St Johnís College, Cambridge. As a pianist and singer, James has recently recorded an album of songs by Cole Porter with soprano Sarah Fox for the Signum label.
John Eliot Gardiner
Member of Monteverdi Choir:
BCP Vol. 4: CD-2: BWV 186, BWV 107, BWV 187
BCP Vol. 12: CD-1: BWV 55, BWV 89, BWV 115, BWV 60
BCP Vol. 13: CD-2: BWV 70, BWV 132, BWV 147
BCP Vol. 14: BWV 91, BWV 121, BWV 40, BWV 110
BCP Vol. 15: BWV 64, BWV 151, BWV 57, BWV 133
BCP Vol. 16: BWV 225, BWV 122, BWV 28, BWV 190
BCP Vol. 19: CD-1: BWV 155, BWV 3, BWV 13; CD-2: BWV 26, BWV 81, BWV 14, BWV 227
BCP Vol. 20: CD-1: BWV 144, BWV 84, BWV 92
PCP Purification: BWV 83, BWV 125