James Gilchrist
James Gilchrist

James Gilchrist

About James Gilchrist

James Gilchrist emerged as one of the leading English tenors in the latter part of the 20th century. He has sung a wide range of repertory, from J.S. Bach (St. John Passion) to Berlioz (L'enfance du Christ) to Britten (War Requiem), and on to such modern fare as Knut Nystedt's Apocalypsis Joannis. He has scored equal successes in lighter works, like Gilbert & Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, where he portrayed Ralph.
Gilchrist was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, on April 29, 1966. While he exhibited a strong talent for music in his youth, his choice of profession initially was that of medicine. Until he was 30 years old, he was a practicing doctor who only sang on the side, despite his impressive educational credentials: he studied at Winchester College, then later at King's College, Cambridge, earning the distinction of choral scholar. As he continued his medical studies, he sang with such prominent groups as the Sixteen, the Cardinall's Musick, and the Tallis Scholars. His decision to focus on music was prompted by his many triumphs on the stage and in the recording studio in the late 1980s and early '90s. He had appeared on a number of successful recordings while still a doctor: he sang on a pair of Naxos releases containing masses by William Byrd (1994) and Dufay (1995).
In the new century, Gilchrist continued to expand his repertory, taking on such roles as the Evangelist in Haydn's The Seasons in St. Louis, and taking on such roles as Damon in Handel's Acis and Galatea (2004) at the Lufthansa Festival of Music at St. John's, Smith Square, London, and the Evangelist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion (2006) in Boston. In the 2010-2011 season, he performed Schubert's Die schöne Mullerin at Wigmore Hall, Britten's Les illuminations at the Aldeburgh Festival, and Serenade for tenor, horn, and strings with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.
Gilchrist has been heard on over 100 albums and has recorded with numerous labels, including Hyperion, Chandos, Collins Classics, and EMI. In 2020, he was featured on several albums, including a 2019 performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, with the King's College Choir, under the direction of Stephen Cleobury, shortly before his retirement. Gilchrist was also heard on the Chandos release Solitude, accompanied by Anna Tilbrook, and the first volume in Somm's One Hundred Years of British Songs series, with Nathan Williamson. ~ Robert Cummings & Keith Finke

  • HOMETOWN
    Banbury, Oxfordshire, England
  • BORN
    29 April 1966

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