At a glance
James Burton inspires Oxford’s classy intercollegiate choir to realise a masterpiece in Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom … the bright, lithe sopranos are absolutely together … the stimulating rhythms, exquisite tuning, rich word painting and constant attention to imaginative dynamics make this an outstanding performance.The TimesThe Times (London)
James Burton is conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the choral director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
James Burton was appointed Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the new position of BSO Choral Director, in February 2017. Born in London, Mr. Burton began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister. He was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier.
He has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata; in early 2016 he made his debut with the Orquestra Sinfònica Nacional with concerts in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Opera credits include Don Giovanni and La bohèmeat English National Opera, Così fan tutte at English Touring Opera, The Magic Flute at Garsington, and Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica at the Prague Summer Nights Festival. He has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris, English National Opera, Opera Rara, and Garsington Opera, where he was honored with the Leonard Ingrams Award in 2008. He has also conducted in London’s West End and led a UK tour of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town in 2012.
His extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed at the Dubai Opera house in its inaugural season earlier this year. From 2002 to 2009 he served as choral director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. He returned to Manchester in 2014, preparing the choirs for a Grammy-nominated recording under Sir Mark Elder of Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony. From 2002 to 2017 he was music director of the chamber choir Schola Cantorum of Oxford, touring all over the world and recording with Hyperion Records. He collaborates regularly with leading young musicians and in 2017 appeared as guest director of the National Youth Choir of Japan and the Princeton University Glee Club, as well as the Genesis Sixteen. He teaches conducting, and has given master classes at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music. In 2011 he founded a conducting scholarship with Schola Cantorum of Oxford.
His compositions and arrangements have been performed internationally, and his orchestral arrangements for Arlo Guthrie have been performed by the Boston Pops, by many other leading U.S. orchestras, and at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. His commissions have included the music for the 2010 World Equestrian Games opening ceremony, a setting for chorus and orchestra of Thomas Hardy’s The Convergence of the Twain commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and a recent Christmas carol premiered by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, live on BBC Radio 3. His choral works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, James Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.
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- Robin Tyson