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James E. Ross

Professor, Conducting
Director, Orchestral Activities
String Division
B.M. Harvard; Diploma in Orchestral Conducting, Curtis Institute; Artist Diploma, Berlin Academy of the Arts

James Ross is a musician of international repute. His musical activities cover three fields: conducting, horn playing and teaching. Born in Boston, he grew up studying the horn and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1981. His first conducting experience came as an undergraduate when he was chosen by his peers to lead the Bach Society Orchestra. Upon graduation, he began his conducting studies in earnest with Kurt Masur in Leipzig while simultaneously serving as Solo-Horn of the prestigious Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, becoming the first American member in the orchestra’s 250 year history. Presently, he is the Director of Orchestral Activity at the University of Maryland, Artistic Director of the National Orchestral Institute (NOI), and newly-named Associate Director of the Conducting Program at the Juilliard School.

After two summers of study at the Tanglewood Music Center (1984-85) Ross was offered the position of interim Assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In June of 1994 he completed a four-year tenure as Music Director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra. He has also served a three-year term collaborating with William Christie as the Assistant Conductor of the Paris-based period instrument ensemble Les Arts Florissants. During the last two decades, he has guest conducted such diverse orchestras as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Utah Symphony, the Orquesta Ciudad Granada, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfonica of Galicia, the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, the Binghamton Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra in various side-by-side performances.

He has worked both joyously and often with youth orchestras, among which are included the Mendelssohn Conservatory Orchestra of Leipzig, the Curtis Institute Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Orchestra of the Conservatorio Superior of Salamanca, the McGill Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Spain, the Kansas All-State Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra of Acarigua-Araure in Venezuela, part of the famed “El Sistema.” His principal conducting teachers were Kurt Masur, Otto-Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein.

As a horn soloist, he has performed with such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Leipzig Radio Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus. When he was awarded Third Prize in the Munich International Horn Competition in 1978, he became the first American and one of the youngest competitors ever to do so. His performances and recordings as principal horn of the Gewandhaus, including the Strauss Four Last Songs with Jessye Norman, helped him gain international recognition as an artist.

In the field of opera, he has conducted productions of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio at the Theatre du Rhin in Strasburg, Le Nozze di Figaro in the Theatre Champs-Elysees in Paris, and Handel’s Rodelinda at the Glyndebourne Festival. He has prepared concert presentations of Torstensson’s The Expedition and Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the Stockholm Philharmonic.

As a teacher, prior to his appointment at the University of Maryland, Ross served on the faculties of Yale University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges, and as a guest artist at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo, Japan. He is a founding director of the Music Masters Course in Kazusa, an international chamber music festival dedicated to the concept of artistic cross-cultural exchange which takes place yearly in Chiba, Japan. In his decade-long work as Artistic Advisor to the Escuela de Practica Orquestal of the Orquesta Sinfonica of Galicia and conductor at the International Festival of Lucena, he played a vital role in the education of the present generation of active Spanish musicians.

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