James Burton (conductor)

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James Burton (born 1974) is a British conductor and composer. He is the conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the choral director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Burton was born in London and was educated at Westminster Abbey Choir School (where he was Head Chorister in 1987) and Radley College.[1] He read music at St John's College Cambridge where he was a Choral Scholar,[2] and he completed a master's degree in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier. He has been engaged as a music director, conductor and chorus master for a wide variety of groups and projects,[3] and has also worked as a composer and arranger, notably for American folk singer Arlo Guthrie.[4]

Between 2002 and 2009 Burton was Choral Director at the Hallé Orchestra, and became music Director of the Hallé Youth Choir when it was founded in 2003.[5] He prepared both choirs for the award-winning recording of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius which won the 2009 Gramaphone Choral Award.[6]

In 2002 he became the Music Director of Schola Cantorum of Oxford,[7] the chamber choir established in 1960 and now well known[8] which is made up of singers who are studying at Oxford University. He has led the choir on international tours, conducted recordings on the Hyperion label[9] and appeared in BBC TV films about British composers made by John Bridcut.[10]

Burton has a long-standing association with the St Endellion Music Festivals in Cornwall, and became Music Director of the Easter Festival in 2007, succeeding Richard Hickox.[11] At the 2012 festival he conducted the world premiere[12] of his new composition The Convergence of the Twain. Scored for chorus, orchestra and baritone, this work is a setting of Thomas Hardy's poem of the same title and has been written in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.[13][14]

In 2012 Burton conducted the UK tour[15] of Leonard Bernstein's Wonderful Town starring Connie Fisher.

On February 2, 2017, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced that Burton was appointed the conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and was also made the choral director of the BSO, a newly created position.[16]


  1. ^ "James Burton in the Radley College newsletter" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Chandos Music sleevenotes p13" (PDF). On Christmas Night. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  3. ^ "allmusic.com list of credits". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Arlo Guthrie's website". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  5. ^ "City Life review of concert 2009". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Gramaphone Magazine". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  7. ^ "Schola Conductors". Archived from the original on 5 August 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Schola history on Hyperion website".
  9. ^ "James Burton on the Hyperion website". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Radley Newsletter ref to J Burton in Bridcut film" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Richard Hickox and the St Endellion Festival". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  12. ^ "Endellion Easter 2012 Festival Programme" (PDF). Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  13. ^ "2012 St Endellion Programme" (PDF). Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  14. ^ "St Endellion Festival on Visit Cornwall site". Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  15. ^ "Wonderful Town tour dates on Boosey and Hawkes". Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  16. ^ "BSO Names James Burton New Tanglewood Festival Chorus Conductor". Boston Globe. 2017-02-02. Retrieved 2017-02-03.

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