Music Director of the Little Orchestra Society New York, the Israel Symphony Orchestra, and from 2017/18 season the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, British born conductor James Judd is sought after for both his passionate musicianship and his charismatic presence on and off the podium. Known for his extraordinarily communicative style and bold, imaginative programming, repeat engagements in concert halls from Prague to Tokyo, from Istanbul to Adelaide, attest to his rapport with audiences and musicians alike.
A graduate of London’s Trinity College of Music, Mr. Judd came to international attention as the Assistant Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, a post he accepted at the invitation of Lorin Maazel. Four years later, he returned to Europe after being appointed Associate Music Director of the European Community Youth Orchestra by Claudio Abbado. Since that time, James Judd has led the Berlin Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestras; he has conducted in the great concert halls of Europe, including the Salzburg Mozarteum and Vienna’s Musikverein; and made guest appearances with such prestigious ensembles as the Vienna Symphony, Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig, Prague Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Monte Carlo Symphony, the Brussels Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic, Japan’s NHK Orchestra and the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg. He has conducted the major British ensembles, including the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the English Chamber Orchestra. He was co-founder of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, which he led on tours throughout the United States, the Far East and Europe. In North America he is a frequent guest conductor with the orchestras of St. Louis, Montreal, Cincinnatti, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Seattle, Indianapolis, Utah, Vancouver and Ottawa.
As opera conductor, he has appeared with the English National Opera conducting productions of Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Rigoletto, and Le Nozze di Figaro; and at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival in Rossini’s La Cenerentola. James Judd also served as Artistic Director of the Florida Grand Opera from 1993-1996.
During his eight years as Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Judd brought the ensemble to a new level of visibility and international renown with acclaimed recordings for the Naxos label of works by Copland, Bernstein, Vaughan Williams, Gershwin and many others. He brought the orchestra to a new level of visibility and international renown through appearances at the 2000 Summer Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, the Osaka Festival of International Orchestras, televised tours of Europe and Australia and the orchestra’s first appearance at the BBC Proms and the Concertgebouw in 2005. Other music directorships have included Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille in France and a groundbreaking 14 years as Music Director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra.
In addition to his international conducting career, James Judd has led the orchestras of the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Guildhall School, Trinity College of London, Aspen Music Festival and the National Youth Orchestras of Australia and New Zealand. Since 2007 he has been Principal Guest Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra, an ensemble of the most gifted musicians from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Korea and he regularly directs the Australian Youth Orchestra music camp in Adelaide. Inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema model he founded the Miami Music Project in South Florida, an organisation which provides education, instruction and performance opportunities for hundreds of children from diverse and underserved communities throughout Dade County.
An outstanding exponent of the works of Gustav Mahler, Judd’s performances of this monumental composer have been praised the world over. His recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 was awarded the Gold Medal by France’s Diapason as well as the Toblacher Komponierhäuschen for the best Mahler recording of the year. His live recordings of Mahler’s Symphonies No. 9 with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and No. 10 with the European Community Youth Orchestra received enthusiastic international praise, and his performance of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 with the Hallé Orchestra is still a highly-regarded reference standard today. He recorded Brahms symphonies with the Royal Philharmonic and works by Copland, Steve Reich, Takemitsu, Gershwin, Bernstein and Bernard Herrmann as well as works by British composers such as Elgar, Lilburn, Vaughan Williams, Tippett and many others. Judd’s many orchestral recordings are also featured on the Decca, EMI and Philips labels and the complete operas by Meyerbeer and Donizetti on the Opera Rara label.
Recent concert highlights have included performances of Britten's 'War Requiem' in Bucharest and Bernstein's 'Mass' at the Radio France Festival, staged performances of ‘Carmina Burana’ at the spectacular desert ruins of Masada, a concert with the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Palace in Monaco, a month long tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and a tour of Asia celebrating the 25th anniversary of his Asian Youth Orchestra. In addition to his commitments with his own orchestras, the new season features concerts with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, University of Southern Californian Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles, the Slovenian National Orchestra and the horn quartet of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Noord Nederlands Orchestra and Vadim Repin, and three concerts in Berlin as part of the celebrations of Yehudi Menuhin’s centenary in the famous Konzerthaus.
Maestro Judd resides in Florida with his wife Valerie and their daughter Carissa.