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 the University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, and Artistic Director of the National Orchestral Institute (NOI).
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, and the National Symphony Orchestra in a side-by-side concert with UMSO.
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 Youth Orchestra of Victoria (Basque region), the Orchestra of the Conservatorio Superior of Salamanca, the McGill Symphony Orchestra, and with the National Youth Orchestra of Spain. His principal conducting teachers are 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, have 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 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 has continued to play a vital role in the formation and education of the next generation of Spanish musicians.