A musician of uncommon versatility and eclectic tastes, James Lowe works regularly with many of today’s leading composers and performers. As a Conductor, Musical Director, Pianist and Arranger, he has received widespread critical acclaim in virtually every musical style, ranging from classical music and opera to the avant-garde; from musical theater and jazz to rock, blues and country. Mr. Lowe can currently be seen conducting performances of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Gypsy,
starring Patti LuPone. He recently toured the United States as Music Director and Conductor of the acclaimed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre production of My Fair Lady,
and conducted the First National Tour of Adam Guettel’s Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza.
At Houston Grand Opera he conducted the world premiere production and subsequent revival of The Little Prince
, an opera by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman. At HGO he has also led Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Entführung aus dem Serail
, Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair
(world premiere production), as well as the HGO Studio production of Copland’s The Tender Land
. Mr. Lowe recently made his Pittsburgh Opera Center debut with Jonathan Dove’s Flight
, and he led Sweeney Todd
at Wolf Trap Opera. He has conducted The Nutcracker
with Houston Ballet, as well as Mark Adamo’s Little Women
at Lyric Opera Cleveland in a production directed by the composer. As Resident Conductor at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, he led La Traviata, La Cenerentola, Die Fledermaus
, and Kiss Me, Kate
, and he has conducted at Dayton Opera, Sugar Creek Symphony and Song, Lyric Opera San Diego and Amarillo Opera.
Mr. Lowe has appeared in concert with Sir Elton John, conducting his own orchestrations and choral arrangements of Elton’s classic songs, and he led a series of concerts with singer-songwriter Randy Newman and the Houston Symphony. He accompanied legendary lyricist and writer Betty Comden in a performance featuring his own arrangements of Comden and Green songs, and his arrangements of Gershwin songs have been performed by renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in recitals at Lincoln Center and Wigmore Hall. He is currently the Music Director and Arranger of a new theater piece entitled A Night at the Alhambra Café
, with a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan and music by several leading composers including Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Moravec. His extended arrangement Freedom for soprano, baritone and piano was commissioned by the Virginia Opera and performed over 50 times across the state, including a special performance at the State Capitol in Richmond. For three seasons he served as Music Director of Blackfriars Theater in Rochester, NY, leading productions of Funny Girl, Falsettos, Merrily We Roll Along, Oh, Coward!
, and The Rink
, as well as arranging and performing many cabaret shows. As Associate Conductor at Houston Grand Opera for several seasons he served as cover conductor, principal pianist and coach on many productions, including the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata
. Mr. Lowe assisted on the world premieres of Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree
and Tod Machover’s Resurrection
, playing keyboards on the recordings of those operas. He can also be heard as keyboardist on HGO’s popular recording of Adamo’s Little Women
. He has been on the music staff of New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and served as Chorus Master at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival. With the American Composers Orchestra he has conducted New Music Readings and served as assistant conductor for two Carnegie Hall concerts, including a program of Frank Zappa’s orchestral music. He appeared onstage as the Tavern Pianist in Santa Fe Opera’s 2001 production of Wozzeck
Mr. Lowe has played in several rock, jazz, blues and country bands. He was the keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Backwash for five years, recording and touring the Eastern United States. He co-produced the band’s compact disc, Goin’ to the Mall::, released in 1995 on Transit Records. For two years he was the music director, pianist and performer with an improvisational sketch comedy troupe, appearing at colleges and clubs.
As a pianist, Mr. Lowe performed as soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals, including several world premieres, at such venues as the Aspen Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute, the University of Texas San Antonio New Music Festival, and the University of Colorado Artsweek Festival in Boulder. As an Affiliate Artist at Syracuse University he taught Keyboard Literature and piano, and he served on the piano and musical theater faculty at the Hochstein Music School in Rochester. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, with additional studies at the Aspen Music School and the Aspen Opera Theater Center. He is based in New York City.