Born in London, James Burton began singing and playing the piano at an early age. He was a boy chorister at Westminster Abbey where, as well as singing at many state occasions, he started improvising at the piano: the school’s film club played mostly silent movies and the musical accompaniment was provided by the boys. James has gone on to become an outstanding musical communicator in a variety of musical genres. Well known as an orchestral and opera conductor, he is also one of the UK’s leading choral conductors, and a respected composer and arranger.
A graduate of Cambridge University and the Peabody Conservatory, James has conducted concerts with leading UK orchestras including the RLPO, the OAE, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia and also the Halle? with whom he has had a long and fruitful relationship. James’s operatic conducting has included Don Giovanni and La Bohe?me at ENO, and Cosi fan tutte for English Touring Opera. James has worked at the Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Paris and Opera Rara, and in 2012 he conducted The Magic Flute at West Green for Garsington Opera from whom he received the Leonard Ingrams Award for outstanding work.
James is widely known for his choral conducting and has enjoyed guest invitations with the Gabrieli Consort, the Wroc?aw Philharmonic Choir and the BBC Singers. He was Choral Director at the Halle? from 2002-9, and under his leadership the Halle? Choir and the Halle? Youth Choir, which he founded in 2003, received outstanding critical coverage for their performances and recordings. Their recording of The Dream of Gerontius received the 2009 Gramophone Choral Award. James is Music Director of the renowned chamber choir Schola Cantorum of Oxford with which he has toured Argentina, China, Italy, France, Mexico, Poland and the USA, made recordings and appeared frequently on BBC TV and radio.
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 choral/ orchestral 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 John’s College, Cambridge.