James Paul


James Paul is widely acclaimed as one of North America's most distinguished conductors. Mr. Paul currently holds permanent posts as music director and conductor of the Oregon Festival of American Music and music director of the Oregon Coast Music Festival. After six seasons as principal guest conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival, he is taking over as artistic director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival in 2006 – the festival’s 50th anniversary season.

Recent highlights included guest-conducting engagements with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, three times with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, to which he returns again in October 2009, Louisiana Philharmonic (twice), and Honolulu Symphony. During the summer he conducted the Orquesta Sinfonica National de Mexico on two separate occasions and joined the Oregon Festival of American Music. Other recent engagements brought him to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, and San Diego Chamber Orchestra.

Mr. Paul’s illustrious career has included guest appearances with some of the world’s finest orchestras. His London Symphony Orchestra debut at the Barbican resulted in immediate reengagement. His guest appearance with the Cleveland Orchestra was broadcast over National Public Radio. He made his Paris debut with the Orchestre Symphonique Français. He has appeared with nearly every major North American orchestra, including the National Symphony in Washington D.C., the orchestras of Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, San Antonio, Oakland, Honolulu, and the National Symphony of Mexico. He has also conducted the West Australian Symphony (Perth), Tampere Philharmonic (Finland), Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow, and Orchestre Colonne (Paris).

Mr. Paul has also enjoyed return engagements with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Columbus (OH) Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Florida Orchestra, the Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstlerorchester (NTO) of Vienna, and the Singapore Symphony. In recent years he has also appeared in return engagements with the Chicago and Phoenix symphonies; debut performances with the Shanghai Symphony, Mexico's Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Symphony Nova Scotia (Halifax), Vancouver Symphony, Omaha Symphony and the National Orchestra of Costa Rica.

During his tenure as music director and conductor of the Baton Rouge Symphony, James Paul brought the orchestra to national acclaim. The Symphony shared the 1983 American Symphony Orchestra League award for most innovative programming with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and was also the only regional orchestra featured on National Public Radio’s Music in America series. In 1984, James Paul founded the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus. In 1988, during the Baton Rouge Symphony’s 40th anniversary season, Mr. Paul led the orchestra in a triumphant performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. At the conclusion of his final concerts in February 1998, he was named Conductor Emeritus, the only conductor so honored by the orchestra in its 50-year history.

Mr. Paul has served as conducting fellow with the St. Louis Symphony, associate conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic and Milwaukee Symphony, principal guest conductor of the New Orleans Philharmonic; and as artistic advisor to the Tulsa Philharmonic.

Mr. Paul is noted for his critically acclaimed performances of orchestral-choral works such as Vaughn Williams’ Sea Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Britten’s Spring Symphony. In 1997, Mr. Paul recorded Paul Paray’s Joan of Arc Mass and First Symphony with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus for Reference Recordings, which received a Grammy nomination for “Best Choral Performance.” A native of Forest Grove, Oregon, Mr. Paul studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Among his many awards is the Serge Koussevitsky Memorial Conducting Prize presented by Erich Leinsdorf at the 1967 Tanglewood Music Festival.