The English counter-tenor, David James, was a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford and subsequently joined the choir of Westminster Abbey. He won first prize in the prestigious 's-Hertogenbosch competition in The Netherlands in 1978 and has since enjoyed an international career as soloist and ensemble singer, performing with such groups as The Sixteen - with whom he has recorded Messiah, Bach's St John Passion (BWV 245) and some cantatas - and taking major operatic roles for English National Opera, Händel Opera, Geneva Opera and the Aldeburgh Festival.
A founder-member of The Hilliard Ensemble, David James gives some 100 concerts a year with this internationally renowned vocal chamber group, performing both medieval and renaissance repertoire and new works by composers such as Veljo Tormis, John Casken, Elena Firsova, James MacMillan, Barry Guy and Stephen Montague. Officium, the ensemble's collaboration with the jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek on the ECM label, has topped both classical and jazz charts in many countries around the world. The Hilliard Ensemble has gained a special reputation for performances of the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, several of whose works they have recorded on the ECM label.
David James' solo engagements have taken him world-wide, and he specialises in Baroque and contemporary repertoire. He recently recorded the alto arias in J.S. Bach's St Mark Passion' (BWV 247) with the European Community Baroque Orchestra and also took part in a recording of Kancheli's Third Symphony for EMI with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. David has been invited to give the first performance of important new works for countertenor and, in particular, developed a special relationship with two composers, Heinz Holliger and Gavin Byrars. He has performed Holliger's Song Cycle Beiseit throughout Europe and recorded it for ECM. He has sung and recorded several works by Bryars and took part in the première of his opera Dr Ox's Experiment with the English National Opera.