Jonathan works mainly as a pre-concert speaker, presenter and workshop leader for venues, artistic organisations and orchestras throughout the UK.

Clients include the Royal Philharmonic OrchestraBournemouth Symphony Orchestra (where he is an Associate), BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (as their ‘Discovery Guide’), Czech Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as concert venues (e.g. Cadogan Hall London; National Concert Hall, Dublin; Usher Hall Edinburgh; St David’s and Brangwyn Halls in Wales; Colston and St George’s, Bristol; GLive,Guildford; Cambridge Corn Exchange and Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham).

Jonathan’s school work is generally with the secondary sector, finding innovative ways of exploring the curriculum and set works, and with youth orchestras and music hubs. His workshops often involve creating pieces with instruments and voice which give an active and fun way of understanding themes, processes and forms in the music being studied.

An important part of the portfolio above is his role as an educational consultant and presenter for IMG Artists (Orchestra Tours division).

He writes regular educational resources for Rhinegold Publishing’s Music Teacher Magazine (online) and is often called on to lead teacher training events (e.g. formerly for Keynote Education).

More recently, he has been the expert interviewee for live BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, commenting on a range of orchestral repertoire.

Jonathan is also committed to seeing music in his home city of Bristol flourish, working as an advisor (past and present) to the Bristol Music Trust, Trinity Community Arts Centre (where he was a trustee) and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre (where he advised on the Bristol Proms).  He founded the New Bristol Sinfonia, has chaired the Bristol Music Education Partnership, and set up the Bristol Pre-Conservatoire.

Over the past twelve years, he has developed a popular series of stand-alone lectures in the city’s major venues, Colston Hall and St George’s, where he talks on diverse musical topics: see ‘Inside the Music’ and ‘Beyond the Barline’ web-pages for current talks.

A bit of background:

Jonathan has been enthusing about music to concert audiences and in classrooms for over twenty years, ever since he started giving pre-performance talks as a conductor.  His freelance work as a presenter, interviewer and workshop leader takes him all over the UK and into Europe.

JONATHAN_JAMES_004As a conductor, Jonathan has worked in London, Europe and the States, including with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston Philharmonic (as a Zander Fellow) and City of Prague Symphony Orchestra. He was principal guest conductor with the Bristol Ensemble for four years and was founder-conductor of the New Bristol Sinfonia.  He had training from John Forster, formerly head of conducting at the Royal College of Music and at the Franz Liszt Music Academy in Weimar, Germany, as well as attending numerous international masterclasses.

A qualified teacher, he founded and directs the Bristol Pre-Conservatoire, a prestigious evening school for talented young classical and jazz players.  Whilst Head of Performing Arts for a Further Education college in Bristol (2007-12), he taught on a Rock and Pop performance course, and continues to teach jazz piano.



Jonathan James prepares original and imaginative educational resources for music concerts and events. He is able to provide high-quality written material, gauged perfectly for the target audience, be it adults or children. Jon is also an adept interviewer of musicians and conductors, and readily communicates his profound knowledge and understanding of the subject matter with great enthusiasm.
Mary Harrison, IMG Artists, Orchestra Tour Manager

Jonathan draws on both his stage and diverse educational experience to give an insider’s guide to the world of music, whether in classical, jazz or popular styles.  It is this breadth of expertise that marks out his work as an educator, as well as his enthusiasm for giving practical demonstrations of the music wherever possible.


newmethodResearch interests
In his part-time PhD at Bristol University, Jonathan is critiquing collaborative creative practices in Higher Education music courses, devising methodologies for facilitating classical and jazz students to learn about their creativity together.






Bristol Pre-Conservatoire
Jonathan set up this evening school in 2012 to challenge and excite the most able young classical and jazz players in Bristol and surrounding regions. There is a big emphasis on creativity and learning from each other’s musical language, as well as more formal training in small ensembles.