James Clark’s career, spanning over thirty years, encompasses a wide range of musical accomplishment. As a chorister at King’s College Cambridge he sang as soloist at the famous ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ on Christmas Eve and on many records under Sir David Willcocks. He went on to study both singing and violin at the Royal College of Music in London, winning major awards as a singer and prizes as a violinist.
In 1981 he was invited by the late Claudio Abbado to lead the European Youth Orchestra, and subsequently became the first leader of the newly formed Chamber Orchestra of Europe working with some of the world’s greatest musicians including Solti, Pollini, Barenboim and Abbado.
As a member of the Endellion Quartet from 1984 chamber music became an increasingly important music activity. With them he visited the USA several times and appeared on their discs of Benjamin Britten’s chamber music, which was Gramophone Magazine’s Chamber Music Record of the Year 1986. James was also active with the Raphael Ensemble, playing regularly on radio and producing several well-received discs of Brahms and Dvorak Sextets. The chamber music recordings produced by the Raphael Ensemble have been highly praised and their 1988 Recording of Brahms sextets was short listed for a Gramophone award. The group has recently released a recording of works by Frank Bridge.
For five years until 1990 James Clark was leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales making over fifty television appearances and over two hundred radio broadcasts with them in Britain and World-wide.
From 1990 to 1998, as leader, James took a major role in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s artistic development and high profile. He played with them regularly as soloist and director, including concerts at the Edinburgh Festival, in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong. His recording with Joji Hattori and the SCO of the Bach Double Violin Concerto is one of classic FM’s most played discs. In addition to working with the SCO James appeared regularly as guest leader with the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the BBC orchestras in Manchester, London and Wales and smaller chamber groups such as the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Nash Ensemble.
James has played chamber music with many world class musicians, including Steven Isserlis, Steven Kovacevich and Michael Pletnev, and he is planning continuing recital dates with various chamber groups. A partnership with pianist Richard McMahon has produced over twenty radio broadcasts and many recitals, with music ranging from Bach and Purcell and the classical repertoire through to Stravinsky, Sibelius and works by living composers. They gave the first live radio performance of Sally Beamish’s violin sonata ‘Winter Trees’. This successful partnership is still active, with further recitals around the country planned for the current and next season.
Between 1999 and 2010, James was Concertmaster of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London, one of the world’s finest and most recorded symphony orchestras. He also continues to be in demand as a guest leader and chamber musician across Britain and Europe. Recently he has appeared with orchestras isuch as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Zurich Tonhalle and with every major symphony orchestra in Britain.
In 2004 James Clark was appointed Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held concurrently with the Philharmonia, and in 2010 was appointed to the same position with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
In the field of conducting, James has worked with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in several broadcasts and concerts, with the Philharmonia Orchestra, with whom he made his conducting debut in 2003, and most recently with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. With the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, he conducted three New Year’s Concerts for 2014.
James’s other musical interests include voluntary educational work in Africa and Bosnia, where he worked with children directly affected by the Bosnian War of the early 1990s, and was one of the first musicians to give recitals in Sarajevo and Mostar after the war.
In 2008, James travelled to Venezuela by personal invitation of Gustavo Dudamel to give masterclasses with members of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra and has returned several times to conduct and coach the orchestras as part of El Sistema. He has also contributed to educational classes with the ‘In Harmony’ music project in Liverpool.
James Clark is a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he teaches, and gives Orchestra coaching and masterclasses. He also gives classes on Orchestra Leadership with advanced students from the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in London.