“Very enjoyable and informative – an excellent balance of entertainment and thought-provoking ideas!”
Audience member at ‘History of Classical Music’ talk, Sept 2015, St George’s Bristol.
Whether looking for jazz in a Stravinsky score, explaining a Mahler symphony, or picking out harmonies in a Stevie Wonder song, Jonathan James enjoys finding the right way in for the listener and leaving them with a new-found enthusiasm for the music. He is a generalist who is able to create interest in all genres and forms of music, although he is most often called on to explain orchestral and instrumental programmes.
Here are a few examples of how Jonathan works:
Music speaks best about music. Where possible, Jonathan will explain the language of the piece from the piano, before drawing on array of recorded excerpts and visualisations to give context. Jonathan gives pre-concert talks at venues across the UK, and also has developed series of stand-alone lectures on a wide range of topics, from the History of Jazz to the Birth of Modernism.
History of Classical Music in 60 minutes
Jonathan takes a whistle-stop tour of music history, from ancient sheep-bone flutes through to electronica, and traces how and why music has developed in the way it has. Ideal for audiences new to classical music, or as a training event for staff at a concert venue.
Audience feedback from ‘History of Classical Music’ talk at St George’s (Sept 2015):
“Exceptional! Imaginative and thoughtful insights with great humour’ – D. Gunn
“‘Brilliant! Jonathan has an amazing combination of skills as a communicator and a musician.” E.Coyte
‘”Very clear talk. Fast, interesting, witty. Well pitched, not too simple, no too difficult” S. Mitchell
“Jon is a gifted and inspiring trainer. We came away enthused and considerably more knowledgeable from his session which was much enjoyed by all of our attending staff. Highly recommended!“
Fran Everist, Marketing and Corporate Development Manager, G-Live Concert Hall, Guildford
Since leaving full-time teaching, Jonathan has continued to enjoy finding practical ways of engaging students of all ages – from primary schoolchildren to University students and adult learners – in discovering more about music. He brings an infectious energy and an imaginative approach to all he does as an animateur, and excels at leading creative workshops involving collaborative composition, which make good use of his skills as a conductor and pianist.
“Jon’s great understanding and enthusiasm for music translated into a clear communication of the musical motifs and made it very accessible to the children. Each workshop ended on a really positive note with the children feeling proud of making their own musical journey…”
Kelly Reynolds, Community & Education Manager, Southend Theatres
With his background as a conductor and performer, Jonathan is able to bring alive the rehearsal process, hosting discussions on a visit to an open rehearsal and giving insights into the process of building a great performance.
Jonathan is often called on to give informed interviews of high profile musicians, enabling the audience to access how the artist thinks. Interviewees have included composer John Adams, artists such as Steven Isserlis, Milos, Chloe Hanslip and conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vassily Petrenko and Dennis Russell Davies. See Media page for examples.
Musical podcasts are such a popular and accessible way of enhancing the appreciation of music and can be used in many different ways for promoting events and building audience loyalty. Jonathan is able to capture the essence of a programme or bring out the best in an interviewee, enhancing the appreciation of the music on many levels. See Media page for examples.