James Blachly is a Grammy Award–winning conductor dedicated to enriching the concert experience by connecting with audiences in memorable and meaningful ways. His world premiere recording of English composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s 1930 masterpiece The Prison, released on Chandos Records, won a 2021 Grammy Award, was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award, and was widely acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Guardian, and many others.
James Blachly serves as music director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and of the Experiential Orchestra, and is in increasing demand as a versatile guest conductor in diverse repertoire. In 2021 he made his debut at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Celebrating Arvo Pärt, a concert featuring the world premiere of Pärt’s O Holy Father Nicholas. In 2022 he holds a week-long residency at Montclair State University, culminating in an immersive concert featuring the music of Jessie Montgomery.
In 2020 Blachly was invited to serve as the associate editor and orchestral liaison for the African Diaspora Music Project, directed by Dr. Louise Toppin. He is the co-founder of Make Music NOLA, an El Sistema–inspired program in New Orleans in its 11th year, and in 2015 he was the only US conductor to be invited to Venezuela to participate in their 40th anniversary Young Conductor Showcase.
A strong supporter of composers of our time, Blachly has commissioned and premiered more than 50 works, and in recent seasons he has collaborated with soloists including Julia Bullock, Dashon Burton, Helga Davis, Sarah Brailey, Andrés Cárdenes, Michael Chioldi, Karen Kim, Andrew Yee, Paul Jacobs, Michelle Cann, and Ashley Jackson.
As a composer, his music has been performed at The Stone and Zankel Hall, in Europe and across the US, in an audience with the Pope, and has been broadcast live on the CBC.
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