James Bagwell Bio

James Bagwell James wBlue Plaid Shirtmaintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. He was most recently named associate conductor of The Orchestra Now (TON) and in 2009 was appointed principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, leading them in concerts at both Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. From 2009-2015 he served as music director of The Collegiate Chorale. Some of the highlights of his tenure with them include conducting a number of rarely-performed operas-in-concert at Carnegie Hall, including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Rossini’s Möise et Pharaon, and most recently, Boito’s Mefistofele.  He conducted the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Toltec Symphony and Golijov’s Oceana, both at Carnegie Hall.  His performance of Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall was recorded live for Gaslight Records and is the only complete recording of this musical. Since 2011 he has collaborated with singer and composer Natalie Merchant, conducting a number of major orchestras across the country, including the San Francisco and Seattle Symphonies. Other recent performances include Glass’s Another Look at Harmony at the Park Avenue Armory and leading the Little Opera Theatre of New York’s production of Rossini’s Opportunity Make the Thief.

James Bagwell has trained choruses for a number of major American and international orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with such noted conductors as Charles Dutoit, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Gilbert, Gianandrea Noseda, Valery Gergiev, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Ivan Fischer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw.

He has prepared The Collegiate Chorale for numerous concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland; in 2012 the Chorale traveled to Israel and the Salzburg Festival for four programs with The Israel Philharmonic.  He has prepared The Concert Chorale of New York for performances with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Mostly Mozart Festival (broadcast nationally in 2006 on Live from Lincoln Center)—all in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Since 2003 he has been director of choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. In 2011 and 2012 he conducted the Amici New York Orchestra at the OK Mozart Festival, and in December 2014 made his second appearance with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a highly acclaimed performance of Messiah.

He conducted some twenty-five productions as music director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Candide, Sweeney Todd, and The Merry Widow, among others. At Bard SummerScape he has lead various theatrical works, most notably The Tender Land, which received glowing praise from The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Opera News. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Jerusalem Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, the Interlochen Music Festival, Berkshire Bach Society, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. From 2005-2010 he was music director of The Dessoff Choirs in New York, who under his leadership made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall in addition to their regular season. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. He is Professor of Music at Bard College, and Director of Performance Studies in the Bard College Conservatory.