James Barralet is a British cellist, festival director, arranger and composer.
As a cellist, he has given recitals at many of the UK’s important venues and festivals, including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, and Bridgewater Hall, and at the Newbury Spring Festival, Northern Aldborough Festival and Music In The Round. He has recorded three solo CDs – the first, solo cello music by Kodaly, Britten and Roxburgh, was a prize for winning the Landor Records Competition in 2007. The latter two are Brahms cello and piano recordings for SOMM records. He has given performances of concertos by Elgar, Walton, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Saint Saens, Haydn, Tavener and Khatchaturian with orchestras including Basel Sinfonie Orchester, Cheltenham Symphony, Kew Sinfonia and Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra.
He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Hannah Roberts and at Basel Hochschule fur Musik with Thomas Demenga, graduating in 2006 with a Solistendiplom, a first class honours degree, a professional performance diploma and a post-graduate diploma with distinction. He was for ten years a regular participant at the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove spring masterclasses, where he studied with Steven Isserlis, Ralph Kirshbaum, Miklos Perenyi, and Boris Pergamenschikow.
He is artistic director of the Whittington International Chamber Music Festival and a regular guest at several chamber music festivals including the Saronic Chamber Music Festival in Greece, Zeitkunst in Berlin and Rio, the Steirisches Kammermusikfestival in Austria, Chamber Music Cervo, Mecklenberg in Germany and the Beijing Music Festival. An experienced chamber musician, he is a member of the Werther Ensemble, the Leondari Ensemble, Ensemble Metamusika, and a regular at Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove.
As a composer and arranger, his growing collection of cello ensemble repertoire has been performed globally. He has received commissions from the Beijing Festival, Royal Academy of Music in London, Stomp Music in Korea, the Singapore Conservatoire, Cello 8ctet Amsterdam, Steirisches Kammermusikfestival in Austria and the Mecklenberg Festival.
He has been guest principal cellist of many of the UK’s professional orchestras including the BBC Welsh National Orchestra, CBSO, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, Ulster Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Guildford Symphony and plays regularly with the John Wilson Orchestra. He is also active as a session musician in London.
He is a member of Ignite, Wigmore Hall’s improvisation and outreach group. Ignite regularly commissions ‘one-page scores’ (semi-improvised music) from eminent composers and leads Wigmore’s learning and community program with workshop projects in and around London.
Indian music has been a long-term love for James since spending six months teaching at the Mathieson Music School in Kolkata. He has studied the tabla in Varanasi and North Indian Music with Ken Zuckerman in Basel, and has given many cello and tabla concerts with Sankar Prosad Chowdhury and Kousic Sen. He has been a guest musician with the London Sitar Ensemble, and with Amina Dance Company is currently touring in the UK, Spain and India.
James is also active in the free improvisation scene in London been and has recently recorded a free improv CD as part of the trio, ‘Bay’s Leap’ with Noel Taylor and Clare Simmonds.
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Away from music, James is fond of making things and climbing things – he has climbed Mont Blanc and Monta Rosa, made an electronic cello, an electric bike and a rather fetching ‘hobbit’ table from reclaimed wood he found in the park and in skips. He practices yoga regularly and is particularly fond of trees!
James would like to thank the following for generously supporting his studies: Royal Philharmonic Society Julius Isserlis Scholarship, Swiss Government scholarship, Muriel Taylor Scholarship, Musician’s Benevolent Fund, the Myra Hess Trust, the Countess of Munster Trust, the English Speaking Union, the Tillett Trust, the Denne Gilkes Trust, the Hattori Foundation, the Philharmonia Orchestra / Martin Musical Trust, Landor Records competition, Making Music, Philip and Dorothy Green award, Bromsgrove Competition, Haverhill Competition.