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James Griffett (Tenor)

Born: Hertfordshire, England

The English tenor, James Griffett, followed a short period as a tenor lay clerk in Peterborough Cathedral Choir, under the direction of Stanley Vann, with studies for four years at the Royal College of Music, where he was a prominent prize-winner. On leaving he was awarded the Dame Clara Butt Award for outstanding students. Whilst still at College he was accepted into the choir of Westminster Cathedral where he became tenor soloist. From there he formed his ensemble Pro Cantione Antiqua which was to become one of England’s leading vocal groups, winning every major disc award, with a mention in the New Grove Dictionary of Music.

At the Royal College of Music James Griffett began some concentrated study on Britten's Abraham & Isaac with his flat mate, fellow student and counter-tenor, Paul Esswood. Their performance at the RCM won the Imperial Prize, which resulted in studying this particular work with Peter Pears, for whom all Britten’s major tenor parts were written. James was also fortunate to have follow up coaching lessons from Peter Pears in many other works by Britten, including Songs From The Chinese and St. Nicolas.

James Griffett's career has taken him all over Europe, South America, Mexico, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan singing in major international Festivals including those of Salzburg, Berlin, Holland, Flanders, Cambridge, Regensberg, Prague Spring, English Bach and Savonlina Opera. Particularly known in the baroque repertoire, the famous 1610 Monteverdi's Vespers is one of his most frequently performed works, having sung it with King's College Cambridge. He has sung the evangelist for performances with the same choir. The Montserrat Choir of Spain, Knabenchor Hannover and many of the European cathedral choirs. He is also a passionate exponent of British Song and is a Life Member of the Peter Warlock Society.

A prolific recording artist – particularly for Ars Musici, Deutcher Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, Hyperion, Regis, ASV, Argo, etc. James Griffett's CDs are featured on most of the major record labels and include the famous classics such as George Frideric Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion (BWV 245), Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Stainer’s Crucifixion, the Haydn Canzonettas, Peter Warlock’s song cycle The Curlew as well as Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers. Also, as founder-manager of the soloist male-voice ensemble Pro Cantione Antiqua, James Griffett is featured on all their eighty-plus "early music" CDs, with landmark recordings such as a Spanish series for Teldec and the Franco-Flemish school for Archiv, as well as the popular masses of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Victoria.

James Griffett has given vocal solo and ensemble master-classes and workshops in many countries and was, for one year, guest tutor of voice at the Prague Conservatoire as well as helping to form the early Music Department of the Brno University in Moravia. He also rehearsed and conducted performances of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas at the Antwerp Conservatoire and recently gave Master Classes in Polyphony and Gregorian Chant at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Alongside his busy solo career James Griffett teaches at Bradford Grammar School, where he prepares young voices for university Choral Scholarships to Oxford, Cambridge, London and Edinburgh, having successfully had singers accepted in the chapel choirs of St. Catherine’s, Girton, Clare, Jesus and King’s College, Cambridge and The Queens, Magdalene and St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He also runs several Choral Weeks and Weekends in London, Ilkley, Filey and the Mediterranean town of Le Lavandou in Provence where amateur singers, young professionals and students can come together to perform some of the repertoire which James has enjoyed and continues to enjoy. His recently formed choir, Northern Youth, made up of young singers ranging from 9 years to 21 years old, has successfully competed in music festivals and given concerts in the North of England as well as being engaged to sing at weddings and social events. Their yearly Christmas concert, conducted by James, and where they combine with the BGS Choral Scholars, has resulted in many thousands of pounds being raised for UNICEF and Street Children charities.


Source: The Artist (May 2005)
Contributed by:
James Griffett (May 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Andreas Kröper & Jan Krejci


BWV 245

Links to other Sites

Pro Cantion Antiqua Singing Days

Northern Youth Choir

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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