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My repertoire stretches over 800 years and I particularly enjoy very old and very new music.

I have dozens of works in my repertoire from the 17th and 18th century, including sonatas, trio sonatas, sets of divisions, arias and orchestral works and concerti. I especially enjoy the freedom this music brings me as a performer, the exhilaration of knowing that every performance is unique and the mix of great serenity and refinement with raw energy and virtuosity.

Much recorder music goes off the beaten track. I have a passion for introducing audiences to new or unfamiliar music, or indeed unfamiliar works for recorder by well-known composers. Among these I would count among my favourites works by York Bowen, Donald Swan, Cyril Scott, Gordon Jacob and Malcolm Arnold.

I am particularly proud to have a small number of commissions and dedications and I hope to continue adding to these.

The gap roughly between 1750 and 1930, during which the recorder largely fell out of common use, is rather inconvenient for programming purposes. It is my belief that that whilst composers such as Schubert, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and Debussy may have missed out, the recorder doesn’t have to.. I regularly include transcriptions of works whose composers had the misfortune to be active at a time when the recorder was not.

As part of my work with Paraorchestra I have had the great joy of working with composers and arrangers on everything from rock to minimalism and experimental. I particularly enjoy bringing the recorder into these genres and into such a colourful and kaleidoscopic orchestra and being closer to the creative process.

From memory

I perform everything from memory. This means that for a piece to be in my repertoire, it has been dissected, studied forensically, re-assembled and played ad just short of nausiam. I learn new pieces from braille music and audio. You can read more about this on my playing from memory page.

James learning a piece, with braille notation