Jonathan James is an experienced music educator and conductor, having been Head of Performing Arts and Director of Music at the South West Academy of Dramatic Arts in Bristol. He had private tuition at the Royal College of Music in Conducting, and further conductor training in Germany and at various international masterclasses. In 1996 He founded the New Bristol Sinfonia, a 90-piece semi-professional orchestra which he ran for six years. He then freelanced in the UK, Europe and the States and was a Fellow with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Recently, he was principal guest conductor for the Bristol Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra based in the city, and led their talented youth orchestra, the Bristol Ensemble Training Orchestra (BETO).
At SWADA, he headed up a prestigious team that delivered an intensive one-year music performance course in all styles, from classical through to pop, rock and jazz. A qualified teacher, he is a busy mentor for South West Music School as well as a teacher trainer and education consultant for music services and the Bristol Music Trust.
Jonathan is in demand as a speaker and on classical and jazz music, giving popular pre-concert lectures at venues throughout the country. He is a keen jazz pianist and his current PhD research (Goldsmiths College, University of London) is looking at the integration of classical and jazz pedagogies in UK conservatoires.
Richard is a composer and conductor based in Bristol. He curated and directed Elektrostatic, an acclaimed new music series at the Colston Hall and Arnolfini for many years and is a guest composition lecturer at Bristol University.
His music is often influenced by extra-musical ideas, particularly linked with nature, and frequently combines live performance and electronics. Recent composition commissions include a full length opera for Welsh National Opera (The Hidden Valley), a 30-minute dance piece for National Dance Company of Wales (Recovered Visions), a choral piece to mark the reopening of the Colston Hall, a 70-minute community opera for Welsh National Opera Max and a choral song for Opera North. His music has received national and international performances by musicians including BBC Singers, Juice, Kungsbacka Trio, Mikhail, Delta Saxophone Quartet, Bristol Ensemble and Bristol Cathedral Choir. Richard has written and recorded scores for feature-length and short films and works on innovative collaborative projects with film-makers, writers and artists.
He regularly leads education projects with many of the major international musicians and groups, including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Eighth Blackbird, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, Manchester Camerata, London Sinfonietta, Philharmonia and Music Theatre Wales.