‘Chief honors for this performance go to James Ham. His flexible, deftly paced reading bore the stamp of authenticity, full of passionate Tchaikovskian ebb and flow. His orchestra responded with evident enthusiasm. Overall, this was a heartfelt and energetic performance’.
– Musical America on Tchaikovsky’s Oprichnik, 2023
British conductor James Ham enjoys a growing reputation across the orchestral, opera and ballet repertoire for his versatility, wealth of ideas, and genuine music making.
Engagements in 2022 and 2023 include Scottish Ballet, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Northern Ballet, Oscar Straus’s rarity The Chocolate Soldier with Opera della Luna, and the English premiere of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Oprichnik at the Cadogan Hall. Recent performances include concerts with the Magdeburgische Philharmonie, Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Brandenburger Symphoniker, Ensemble Modern Akademie, and Gibraltar Philharmonic.
In the theatre, James has conducted performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Le Nozze di Figaro, Eugene Onegin, Il Tabarro and Tosca. He has been assistant conductor to Edward Gardner on Peter Grimes at the Bayerische Staatsoper and La Damnation de Faust at Norwegian National Opera, Wayne Marshall on Porgy and Bess at the Theater an der Wien, and Anthony Bramall on Rigoletto at the Gärtnerplatztheater in Munich. He has also assisted on productions of L’Assedio di Calais and Belshazzar, and is the 2022 conducting bursary holder from the International Opera Awards Foundation. With Birmingham Royal Ballet, during his time as Conducting Fellow, James conducted several performances of The Nutcracker, Coppélia and The Grand Tour both in Birmingham and on tour.
His formative training was at the St Petersburg Conservatory and UdK Berlin, establishing his interest in German and Russian music from the 19th and 20th centuries, along with that of central Europe. James also has a keen interest in contemporary music, based on his specialist training as a conductor with the London Sinfonietta Academy, Ensemble Modern Akademie, and Lucerne Festival Academy, where he was Conducting Fellow in 2016.
James has assisted Edward Gardner and Vladimir Jurowski with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mark Elder with the Bergen Philharmonic, and Karel Mark Chichon with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie on several occasions. During his studies, he was selected to participate in international masterclasses with Alan Gilbert, Susanna Mälkki, Sir Colin Davis, and Bernard Haitink, conducting orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.