James McCarthy’s highly emotional and distinctive music has been broadcast and performed around the world. His music ranges from large pieces for choir and orchestra, to film scores and songs produced as a singer-songwriter, and what binds all of McCarthy’s music together is a fascination with storytelling.
James McCarthy was born in Rush Green, Dagenham, in November 1979, and grew up in Romford, Havering. He began piano lessons aged 6 and shortly after began improvising and composing music. He went on to study at Royal Holloway, University of London, and graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music.
He wrote two operas and numerous orchestral pieces in his twenties but it wasn’t until his first large-scale choral work, 17 Days, that McCarthy truly found his unmistakable musical voice. 17 Days went on to be performed several times in the UK and also in Wellington, New Zealand. And it began a series of hugely ambitious, large-scale compositions. It was followed by Codebreaker and Malala in 2014, and One Giant Leap in 2019. The critically-acclaimed Codebreaker was commissioned by Hertfordshire Chorus, has been performed around the world, and has been recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra, Hertfordshire Chorus, Julia Doyle and David Temple. The album went straight in at No 7 in the UK Classical Charts.
Alongside his music for choirs and orchestras, McCarthy has been producing music for various film and television projects and, most recently, has begun releasing recordings as a singer-songwriter. These new recordings take him back to where he began – with just a piano, and a story to tell.