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James Burton Conductor

James Burton is Boston Symphony Orchestra Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also Director of Orchestral Activities at Boston University.

Born in London, conductor/composer James Burton is currently the Boston Symphony Orchestra Choral Director, and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, also Director of Orchestral Activities at Boston University. A frequent collaborator with orchestras and choirs, Mr Burton’s recent concert highlights have included replacing an indisposed Gustavo Dudamel to conduct a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Boston Symphony Hall, and guest conducting with the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional of Mexico and the Boston Pops Orchestra at the Tanglewood Festival. Mr Burton has conducted concerts with many leading UK orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, and the Hallé Orchestra where he returns next season. He is a regular guest of the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional of Mexico and returned this season to lead performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Opera credits include performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, Garsington Opera and the Prague Summer Nights Festival, and he has served on the music staff of the Metropolitan Opera, Opéra de Paris and Opera Rara. Mr. Burton’s extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers with which he performed in the augural season of Dubai’s Opera House in 2017. From 2002 to 2009 he served as Choral Director at the Hallé Orchestra, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009.  A lifelong and passionate advocate for young musicians, Mr Burton founded the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir in 2018, the Hallé Youth Choir in 2003 and he was Music Director of Schola Cantorum of Oxford from 2002 to 2017. In 2017 he was guest director of Japan’s National Youth Choir, and he has also been a guest of NYCGB and Genesis Sixteen. Mr Burton has given conducting masterclasses at RAM and RWCMD, at the Tanglewood Music Centre, and he founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford. Mr Burton began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister, and he was a choral scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge. He is a master’s graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied orchestral conducting with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier.

Mr Burton’s growing composition portfolio includes works commissioned by the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Exon Festival where he was composer in residence in 2015. His works have received premieres on BBC Radio 3, and have been performed and recorded by many leading choral groups including the Sixteen, Tenebrae, the BBC Singers, ORA Singers and the Choir of St John’s College Cambridge. His most recent work The Lost Words is based on the book by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane, and is a 35-minute piece for upper voices and orchestra (or piano). It is a co-commission between the Hallé Concerts Society and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr Burton’s works are published by Edition Peters.

“James Burton inspires to realise a masterpiece in Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom … the bright, lithe sopranos are absolutely together … the stimulating rhythms, exquisite tuning, rich word painting and constant attention to imaginative dynamics make this an outstanding performance.” —The Times