[ Tenor ]
With an extensive repertoire ranging from the medieval period to the twenty-first century, James Taylor devotes much of his career to oratorio and concert literature. As one of the most sought after Bach tenors of his generation, he has performed and recorded extensively with many of today’s preeminent Bach specialists, such as Nicholas Harnoncourt, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, and Masaaki Suzuki. Since 1993, James has maintained a close relationship with conductor, Helmuth Rilling and the International Bach-Academy Stuttgart, performing and teaching master classes worldwide. On several occasions, he has been a juror and consultant for the International Bach-Competition Leipzig. In 2008, he debuted with the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Kurt Masur, singing four performances as the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. As an oratorio specialist, James Taylor’s career has taken him throughout the United States, South America, Japan, Korea, Israel, and to virtually all the major orchestras and concert halls of Europe. He has performed with conductors such as Blomstedt, von Dohnányi, Graf, Harding, Koopman, Labadie, Nézet-Séguin, Norrington, Tovey, Welser-Möst, and Zuckerman. His artistry has been documented on no fewer than forty professional CD and DVD recordings for labels such as Sony, Hänssler, harmonia mundi, and Naxos; and through numerous television and radio broadcasts in the United States, Canada and abroad.
After graduating from Texas Christian University, in 1991, with a BME, James received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the Hochschule für Musik, in Munich, Germany, with tenor, Adalbert Kraus. After just one year in Munich, he joined the Opera Studio of the Bavarian State Opera, where he worked with the great American soprano, Astrid Varnay. With the Opera Studio, he toured Bavaria in roles, such as, “Ferrando,” “Almaviva,” “Tito,” and “Don Basilio,” while singing comprimario roles in the Munich Staatsoper. His opera career took him to Stuttgart, Innsbruck, Schwetzingen, Strasbourg, Brussels, Lyon, Toulouse, Boston, Berlin, Vienna, Lissabon, and Toronto, but early on, his focus shifted almost entirely to concert literature.
Mainstays of Mr. Taylor’s repertoire include all the large scale works of Bach, and as many as 80 of his cantatas. He has sung an estimated 200 performances of the B-minor Mass, alone. Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Saint Paul, and Hymn of Praise, and Haydn’s great oratorios, The Creation and The Seasons are also among his most performed pieces, as well as Handel’s oratorios such as Messiah, Jephtha, Israel in Egypt, L’Allegro and La Resurezione. Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis remains one of Mr. Taylor’s favorite choral works, and he feels particularly proud to have recorded and performed Britten’s War Requiem numerous times, though perhaps the most poignant performance was for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII, in the Munich Residence.
Regular recitals round out James Taylor’s repertoire. Recent program titles include, “Love and Separation,” songs of Beethoven, Schubert and Schuman; “A doi tenori,” duets and arias by Monteverdi and his contemporaries, shared with his husband and fellow tenor, Thomas Cooley; “A Schubertiade,” songs of Schubert, Haydn and Beethoven; “Like as the Lute” with lutenist Stephen Stubbs and, “To Be Sung upon the Water,” a duo evening with soprano Martha Guth and pianist Erika Switzer. In October of 2011, Mr. Taylor sang Vaughan Williams’ “On Wenlock Edge,’ and Haydn and Beethoven Folksong arrangements with pianist Peter Frankl at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, where he has been a regular guest since first singing there in 2007. With fortepiano specialist Christoph Hammer he performed on the Yale Faculty Series in a program entitled, “O tuneful Voice.” James has recorded songs of John Duke, and Haydn’s Scottish and Welsh Folk Songs with his longtime pianist and friend, Donald Sulzen. Along with Franz Josef Selig, Christian Elsner and Michael Volle, James Taylor was a founding member of the men’s quartet, “Liedertafel,” which can be heard on a CD by the same name, on the Orfeo label.
Over the past 25 years, James Taylor has recorded extensively for a wide variety of recording labels, television and radio. For Hänssler, under the direction of Helmuth Rilling, he has recorded Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, St. John Passion; and Handel’s Messiah, just to name a few. On the Harmonia Mundi label he has recorded Bach’s Easter Oratorio, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Mendelssohn’s Paulus under Philippe Herreweghe, and the secular Bach cantatas, “Herkules auf dem Scheidewege,” and “Der Streit zwischen Phoebus and Pan,” with René Jacobs. Other releases include Britten’s War Requiem with Helmuth Rilling for Hänssler; the Mozart Requiem with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra led by Andreas Delfs on Limestone Records; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Nashville Symphony on the Naxos label; the rarely heard Baroque opera Ariadne by Johan Georg Conradi with the Boston Early Music Festival led by Paul O’Dette on ArkivMusik; and on DVD, Haydn’s Seasons, with Enoch zu Guttenberg and the KlangVerwaltung. In the spring of 2017, he will record Bruhns Cantatas in Yale’s Marquand Chapel with Maestro Masaaki Suzuki playing the Taylor and Boody meantone organ.
James Taylor joined the Yale faculty in 2005 and serves as coordinator for the voice program in Early Music, Art Song and Oratorio. He was promoted to Professor in the Practice of Voice, in 2014. After 12 years at Yale University and the Institute of Sacred Music, teaching has become his primary focus and true passion.