A bit of background:
Jonathan James 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.
As 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 now works mainly as a pre-concert speaker, animateur and workshop leader for venues, artistic organisations and orchestras throughout the UK.
Recent clients include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (where he is an Associate), BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (as their new ‘Discovery Guide’), Czech Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as concert venues (e.g. Cadogan Hall London, Usher Hall Edinburgh, St David’s Cardiff, Colston and St George’s Bristol, GLive Guildford, Cambridge Corn Exchange, 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 (e.g. Berkshire Maestros). 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 contributes regularly to Rhinegold Publishing’s Music Teacher Magazine (online resources) and is often called on to lead teacher training events (e.g. Keynote Education seminars).
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 is a trustee) and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre (where he advises 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 ten 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.
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.
In his part-time PhD at Goldsmiths College, University of London (with Prof Mark d’Inverno), Jonathan is critiquing the practice of aural and improvisation training in classical and jazz studies at conservatoire level, looking for opportunities for integrating the two disciplines in a context of social learning, supported by the latest developments in music technology.
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.