James is an Australian classical pianist, accompanist and music teacher, currently pursuing a double degree of Bachelor of Music/Laws at Monash University, Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music. He is currently under the tutelage of internationally recognised concert pianist and pedagogue Len Vorster.

James started playing the piano in 2001. Past teachers include Nancy Tsou and Yan Zhen. From 2009 to 2010, he attended the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. James completed the latter part of his secondary education at Melbourne High School. He became one of the School Pianists at both the junior and senior levels. This role included accompanying 700 boys at weekly assembly, as well as performing different solo piano works on an almost weekly basis.

James made his concerto debut at the age of 14 with the Melbourne High School Symphony Orchestra performing Chopin’s F minor concerto. In each of his four years at Melbourne High, James featured as the soloist and piano accompanist for his house (Como, the yellow house) in the House Instrumental and Choral Competition held at Melbourne Town Hall. In his final year in 2014, his solo performance of Franz Liszt’s 10th Hungarian Rhapsody delivered an almost perfect, school record score of 59/60.

James was awarded the Melbourne High School Gold Diploma and Full Colours for his musical contributions to the School. A stint with the Melbourne High School Symphony Orchestra that lasted more than three years began after just five months of French horn lessons. He also took on opportunities to perform in many smaller ensembles like wind symphony, brass band, horn quartet, and the annual Mac.Rob/MHS musical theatre production Miss Saigon. At one point, he was even attempting Mozart horn concerti. Alas, James no longer plays the French horn these days.

His excellence in piano performance was recognised by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority during the latter stages of his secondary education, when he topped the whole state of Victoria in the VCE subject of Music Performance with a perfect score of 50. This consequently won him the Premier’s Award and a public performance opportunity with Top Class, where James made his Melbourne Recital Centre debut in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall.

In recent times, James has performed live on The Talent, a series broadcast on 3MBS Fine Music Melbourne radio (103.5FM). He has also performed publicly at venues including the Melbourne Town Hall, the Supreme Court of Victoria Library, the Abbotsford Convent, Duneira Estate, and both the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall and the Salon at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Past achievements include being awarded both the Associate in Music (AMusA) and the Licentiate in Music (LMusA) by the age of 15. His recent excellence in university studies has been recognised by the Monash University Faculty of Arts through the Jascha Spivakovsky Prize, the Joan Earle Prize, and the Cengage Western Music Theory Prize.

James is currently the Events Coordinator and Western Music Theory Tutor for the Monash Music Students’ Society.

Photography: Rob Castleton