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James Burton


PSN History

PSN 18, 23,  24


James Burton is the BSO Choral Director and Conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, holding the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity. Since his appointment in 2017, Burton has conducted performances at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir, which he founded in 2018. Born in London, Burton has conducted UK orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra, and Manchester Camerata. Between 2016 and 2020 he was a frequent guest of the Orquesta Sinfònica Nacional in Mexico City, and he gave his debut with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in October 2022. Since 2017 he has been a frequent guest conductor of the Boston Pops, notably for the orchestra’s Holiday Pops concerts. James Burton has conducted professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic Choir, the BBC Singers, and Tenebrae, which he conducted on its recent U.S. tour. From 2002 to 2009 he was Choral Director at the Hallé Orchestra, where he was music director of the Hallé Choir and founding conductor of the Hallé Youth Choir, winning the Gramophone Choral Award in 2009. Burton has conducted performances at English National Opera, English Touring Opera, and Garsington Opera, and has served as assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and Opéra national de Paris.


James Burton is well known for his inspirational work with young musicians. In 2020 he was appointed Director of Orchestral Activities and Master Lecturer at Boston University’s School of Music, where he leads the school’s orchestral performances and serves as principal studio teacher for the doctoral program in orchestral conducting. In spring 2023 he conducted over 200 BU students in a sellout performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2 at Symphony Hall. James Burton founded a scholarship for young conductors at Oxford and has given master classes at the Royal Academy of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center, as well as many schools and ensembles for young musicians. He was music director of the Schola Cantorum of Oxford from 2002 to 2017 and the honored guest director of the National Youth Choir of Japan in 2017. James Burton’s composition portfolio includes works performed by leading choral groups including The Sixteen and the BBC Singers. The King’s Singers featured a work of his on their 2021 Christmas album. His 35-minute The Lost Words was commissioned by the BSO and performed at Tanglewood in 2019. His works are published by Edition Peters. James Burton studied at St John’s College at Cambridge University and holds a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier.

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