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Our Musical Director

James Gillett

Originally from Grimsby, James has had a connection with Manchester since 2013, where he attended the Royal Northern College of Music Junior School. It was here that he was first introduced to conducting, alongside studies in Clarinet and Piano. At the age of 18, James continued his studies at the University of Manchester where he developed an interest for analytical music whilst continuing to develop his skills in playing and conducting. Throughout his time at University, James studied conducting with Robert Guy and Mark Heron, working closely with the Manchester University Music Society. Some highlights were performing Copland’s Clarinet Concerto and conducting Manchester University’s annual opera performance: The Enchanted Pig, by Jonathan Dove.

Alongside James’ training in symphonic repertoire, he developed love for music making and theatre. This interest began with producing and conducting a staged production of Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale, and was further cultivated through work as musical director for Manchester Contemporary Youth Opera. In 2021, James made the decision to develop his training in operatic repertoire as a Masters repetiteur student at the RNCM. Here, studies focus on working with singers from the piano, language studies, and gaining a wide knowledge of operatic repertoire. 

Whilst much of James’ work is in performing existing repertoire, James is also involved in Manchester’s new music scene. Since 2019 he has enjoyed working with Manchester composers to workshop and perform their works, a process which he believes vital to the future of classical music. 

Outside of an education setting, James regularly takes rehearsals for amateur and semi-professional ensembles, and has worked with groups such as: the Michael Haydn Orchestra, Gorton Philharmonic, and Oldham Symphony Orchestra, as well as conducting choirs such as The Manchester Philharmonic Choir, and Hallam Choral Society.

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