James Gilchrist began his working life as a doctor, turning to a full-time career in music in 1996. His musical interest was fired at a young age, singing first as a chorister in the choir of New College, Oxford, and later as a choral scholar in King’s College Choir, Cambridge.
James’ extensive concert repertoire has seen him perform in major concert halls throughout the world, with conductors including Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Roger Norrington, Bernard Labadie, Harry Christophers, Harry Bicket and the late Sir Richard Hickox, to name but a few. Recent highlights have included Britten’s Church Parables with performances in St Petersburg, London and at the Aldeburgh Festival, Handel’s L’Allegro il Penseroso ed il Moderato with the Mark Morris Dance Group at the Teatro Real, Madrid, Solomon with Les Violons du Roy, Schumann’s Paradies und die Peri and Die Schöpfung at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Britten’s Nocturne with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and War Requiem with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. As the Evangelist in J.S. Bach’s great Passions of St John and St Matthew, James works consistently at the highest level and is recognised as ‘the finest Evangelist of his generation’; as one recent reviewer at the 2014 St John Passion BBC Prom with Zürcher Kammerorchester and Sir Roger Norrington noted, ‘he hasn’t become a one-man Evangelist industry by chance’.
A prolific and versatile recitalist, James enjoys imaginative and varied programming, often pairing new works with the more established song cycles, in collaborations with pianists Anna Tilbrook and Julius Drake and harpist Alison Nicholls. Recent appearances include a Schubertiade weekend at St John Smith Square and Schwanengesang coupled with Beethoven An die Ferne Geliebte at the Wigmore Hall. James will return to the Wigmore Hall in January 2016, to begin a three-concert recital series spanning two years, performing the Schumann song cycles Liederkreis and Dichterliebe.
James’ impressive discography includes the title role in Albert Herring and Vaughan Williams A Poisoned Kiss for Chandos, St John Passion with the Academy of Ancient Music, Finzi song cycles “Oh Fair To See”, Elizabethan Lute Songs “When Laura Smiles” with Matthew Wadsworth, Leighton ‘Earth Sweet Earth’, Vaughan Williams "On Wenlock edge", Finzi songs and Britten’s Winter Words for Linn Records and the critically-acclaimed recordings of Schubert’s song cycles for Orchid Classics. James and Anna Tilbrook will release a new disc of Schumann song cycles in Summer 2015.
Forthcoming engagements in 2014/2015 include Israel in Egypt with Le Concert Lorrain in Bremen, Metz and Ambronay, three concerts as part of the Oxford Lieder Festival’s ‘Schubert Project’, Mozart Requiem at the Bath Mozartfest, Messiah with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Richard Egarr, a European tour of Christmas Oratorio with Windsbacher Knabenchor and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and Hylus in Handel’s Hercules with the English Concert at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Theater an der Wien, Birmingham Town Hall and the Barbican Centre London.