James Garner


James is a composer, educator and musical director. His work has been performed in the UK, Canada, Austria and Russia, at venues such as Kings Place, Arcola Theatre, Barbican Cinema, Théâtre Paradoxe and Stanislavsky Music Theatre Moscow.

His stage works include Dust Child (English Touring Opera), Seven Velvet Suits (workshOPERA/BasicSpace), East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon (Le Festival B!NGE & Tête à Tête) and incidental music for Chekhov’s Three Sisters (Milton Court Theatre). His next major work, Much Ado – previewed at the Association for Opera in Canada’s 2018 Summit and at the 2019 Opera NUOVA Festival in Alberta – is commissioned by and in development with Opera McGill, who will give its world premiere in 2023 in Montréal.

As an educator, James has delivered projects for Opera North, Stanislavsky Music Theatre Moscow, English Touring Opera, Opera Holland Park, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and AgeUK.

As a musical director, he most recently collaborated with stage director Miranda Cromwell on Dead Equal (Summerhall), and previously with Anna Pool on These Wondering Stones (Barbican Centre/Culture Mile) and SCRAWW (Trebah Gardens). He also assisted the conductor Richard Baker on 4.48 Psychosis (ROH/Lyric Hammersmith), Illusions featuring David Hoyle (RFH/PRS New Music Biennial) and, in 2020, he consulted on the BBC Four documentary, Opera Mums with Bryony Kimmings (Tigerlily Productions).

2021/22 sees the premiere of Beauty and the Seven Beasts commissioned by The Opera Story (Fedora Prize Shortlist 2021), recordings of several new small-scale concert works, as well as the continued development and leadership of Opera North's schools composition programme, in collaboration with members of the Orchestra of Opera North.

James studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he was a Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths scholar, and received the Mary Ryan Composition Award 2013 and the Sydney Vale Award. He previously co-founded workshOPERA, serving as musical director from 2014-17, during which the company was nominated for a New British Music Theatre Award. In 2020, he also collaborated with David Parry on The Opera Story’s Episodes, a digital series which has since been recognised with the RPS Inspiration Award.


Photo © Gordon Scammell