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James Bagwell


May Festival Youth Chorus Director


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James Bagwell maintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. He has been Music Director for the May Festival Youth Chorus in Cincinnati since 1997.  In 2009 he was appointed music director of The Collegiate Chorale and principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra, leading them in concerts at Carnegie Hall during the 2012-2013 season. Some of the highlights of this past season included Bellini’s rarely-performed opera Beatrice di Tenda and the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Toltec Symphony, both at Carnegie Hall.  He recently conducted a performance of Kurt Weill’sKnickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall, which was recorded live for Gaslight Records and is the only complete recording of this musical.  In July 2011 he prepared The Collegiate Chorale for three concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and they will return in 2013 for four concerts. In 2012 they traveled to Israel and the Salzburg Festival for four programs with The Israel Philharmonic.  He has prepared The Concert Chorale of New York for numerous 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 June 2012 he conducted the Amici New York Orchestra at the OK Mozart Festival.  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. In December 2011 Mr. Bagwell made his debut with The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a highly acclaimed performance ofMessiah.

James Bagwell has trained choruses for a number of major American and international orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with such noted conductors as 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 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 fromThe New York TimesThe New Yorker, and Opera News. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Jerusalem Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, 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 the regular season. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. He has taught since 2000 at Bard College, where he is Director of the Music Program and co-director of the Masters Program in conducting.