Skip to page content

James Holmes

About this Artist

JAMES HOLMES has enjoyed a full and extremely varied career as conductor, accompanist, and arranger. While much of his work has been in the opera house - firstly as principal coach/resident conductor with English National Opera and from 1996-2008 as Head of Music with Opera North - he has also become known for his work in musical theater, particularly in the music of Kurt Weill - Street Scene (ENO/BBC-TV, Berlin, and Arte dvd), Seven Deadly Sins, One Touch of Venus, and Arms And The Cow (ON), as well as a BBC-TV documentary on the composer’s American years - and Stephen Sondheim, notably Pacific Overtures (ENO and a Grammy-nominated original London cast recording), Sweeney Todd (ON), and Into The Woods (Royal Opera House). As associate music director, he conducted well over a hundred performances of Nicholas Hytner’s award-winning production of Carousel (Royal National Theatre), and as Simon Rattle’s musical assistant worked on the much-acclaimed Porgy and Bess both for the original Glyndebourne production and its EMI recording. His large and wide-ranging operatic repertoire includes works from Mozart to Britten and several world premieres, among them Gavin Bryars’ Dr. Ox’s Experiment for ENO (in collaboration with the director Atom Egoyan) and Paul Frehner’s Sirius on Earth for the Almeida Festival.

Jim’s numerous concert appearances include engagements with the BBC, Hallé, City of Birmingham Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, and Montreal Symphony. With the London Sinfonietta he conducted a celebration of Stephen Sondheim featuring artists such as Eartha Kitt and Elaine Stritch, and a Brecht-Weill evening for Patti Smith’s ‘Meltdown’ series at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Antony Hegarty, Marc Almond, Sparks, and Martha Wainwright, among others. He has arranged Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe for Bryn Terfel (DG recordings) and Gershwin for Sally Burgess and the National Youth Orchestra (BBC Proms), and with the distinguished British playwright Michael Frayn, devised ENO’s reworking of Offenbach, La Belle Vivette for ENO. Other work includes conductor for Lesley Garrett’s best-selling album Soprano in Red (EMI). Upcoming plans include a return to Opera North to conduct Shostakovich’s operetta Cheryomushki (Paradise Moscow) in a musical version he co-devised with Gerard McBurney.