James is a composer and writer whose work encompasses choral and orchestral works, music for film and theatre, and a whole range of smaller works and arrangements. His music has been commissioned for many ensembles and performers, including the choir of Westminster Abbey, Graham Johnson with The Songmakers’ Almanac at the Wigmore Hall, Guy Bovet, James Bowman, the Beauregard Youth Choir and the Bromley Boy Singers. He collaborated on the song cycle Voices of London for Song in the City and his work has been performed by English Voices, Vivamus and the choirs of St Paul’s Cathedral and Trinity College Cambridge, with recordings by the choirs of Girton and Selwyn and the chapel choir of Bedford school.
Musical theatre writing includes Infants, MusicalTalk's pick of the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Miracles at Short Notice, award-winning total Fringe sell-out show Tony Blair the Musical and one-man musical extravaganza The Rise and Fall of Deon Vonniget. He wrote and directed the music for Io Theatre Company's actor-musician adaptations Dickens’ Ghosts, A Christmas Carol and The Snow Spider, their realisation of J. M. Barrie’s A Well Remembered Voice, and their forthcoming drama cabaret and The Confessions of Fanny Cradock. Other productions, as both a composer and musical director, include The Snow Queen and Peter Pan: the Revenge of Captain Hook (Rolling Stock Theatre Company), The Borrowers (Dreamshed Theatre), and a setting of new words by Andrew Motion for Bush Theatre’s Sixty-Six Books at Westminster Abbey. Film scores include Death Sentence, The Ghost of Kirkton Fell, A Hand in the Bush and Savage Mountain.
He studied composition with Robin Holloway and was the composer-in-residence at Bedford School between 2008 and 2011. He is the Director of Music at Westminster Abbey Choir School and a co-founder and trustee of arts charity Tring Productions.