As a conductor, James has made a reputation in Scotland as one of the up and coming directors on the scene. He is instrumental in the delivery of the ensemble provision for both undergraduate and postgraduate vocalists at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has directed RCS Voices in concerts ranging from Blue Monday jazz performances to live lecture recitals at academic conferences. He is also the director of the RCS Singers (formerly Chorale), an ensemble designed to bring young musicians together for a positive ensemble experience, including a notable performance as part of the Celtic Connections festival. For RCS Opera, James has chorus mastered Street Scene, Die Fledermaus, and Ūhte, a new opera which was recorded by the BBCSSO with Martyn Brabbins. He was also Assistant Conductor for the UK Premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking He also curated and directed a collaborative performance in celebration of Milton’s Paradise Lost including film, actors, and musicians.
James is currently musical director of Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society, with whom he has conducted A Child of Our Time, Eternal Light (Goodall), Magnificat (Bach), Nelson Mass (Haydn), Vespers of 1610 (Monteverdi), and Messiah (Handel) with professional orchestras. The choir has recently recorded a CD, and is growing in membership to create a vibrant and strong choir that continues to grow.
In 2018, James was appointed as Director of Music at the Robin Chapel, Edinburgh. He is responsible for the music making of the professional choir in their regular afternoon services, as well as working to build the vision and mission of this unique place of workshop.
Passionate about education, James has a long standing relationship with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, having been as section leader with their Boys, Cambiata, and Training choirs. From 2016-18, James conducted the Cambiata choirs for their seasons, including collaborating with the 'main' National Youth Choir. He now works with NYCGB as an audition panellist and most recently as the Tenor Section Head for their 'Main Choir' course. He was also a member of the National Youth Chamber Choir with whom he toured the USA twice. He also worked for the RCS Junior Department as a conductor, pianist, and accompanist, preparing the chorus for a performance of Noah’s Flood with the BBC SSO, which was broadcast on Radio 3.
In demand as an animateur, James has given workshops for the Princes Teaching Institute in association with the University of Cambridge on four separate occasions. Through this, he has been asked to give workshops for Pimlico Academy, Lancaster Royal Grammar School, and the Tees Valley Youth Choir. He also facilitates Ready, Steady, Sing workshops for NYCGB, engaging thousands of children in fun singing workshops throughout the country. In 2013, James was a choral leader and pianist for the Guradian’s Piece of Theatre of the Year ‘The Events’. This saw him working with dozens of choirs at the Traverse Theatre (where it won the Carol Tambor Award and a Fringe First), Hull Truck Theatre, Birmingham Rep, and The Young Vic (London).
In 2012/13, James was the Alexander Gibson Conducting Fellow for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, preparing choruses for the likes of Sir Andrew Davis, Donald Runnicles, Peter Oundjian, Christopher Bell , and Paul Agnew. He was subsequently asked to deliver workshops for the education department and delivered pre-concert lectures on vocal and operatic repertoire.
As a pianist, James has worked for the Cambridge University Gilbert and Sullivan Society,, Barnard Castle School, Westbridge School for Girls, Starlight Theatre Company, and Hartlepool Sixth Form College. He was also organist at St John the Baptist Greatham and has given an organ recital at Kelvingrove Art Gallery as part of the name change events for the Royal Conservatoire. He has also played harpsichord and organ for the RCS Junior Department.
James was the Making Music Young Conductors Scholar, and has previously worked with The Hadley Court Singers, Kilbarchan Singers, Bearsden Choir, Glasgow Caledonian University Choir, Glasgow Chamber Choir, Paisley Abbey Choir, and is a regular deputy for many other groups across Scotland.