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James Taylor

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James Taylor
Professor in the Practice of Voice Institute of Sacred Music
At YSM Since: 2005
Award(s): Fulbright Scholar, award-winning recordings, Grammy nominations.
Music is a reflection of the world around us. It mirrors our feelings and emotions; expresses our fears and hopes; and evokes greatest joy, or deepest sorrow. It can incite to action, or soothe the soul. It is my belief that music should be experienced and practiced with an awareness of the world around us. Context is key. It is necessary for artists, to understand the music they perform as it pertains to the history of the world, and its relationship to other arts at the time of its composition. It is equally important for us to understand what music from both the past and present is saying to us, as artists, today. As musicians, it is our job to communicate. As singers, we have a double responsibility to express with both our music and our words. Singers are the only musicians graced with words, which are often, in and of themselves, exquisite music. We use words to communicate: to describe what we see, to elaborate on our feelings and explore our emotions. I encourage my students to see and experience the world we live in. I want them to understand history, and how it has influenced literature, the visual arts, architecture, and of course music. This is why I love music, especially music of the past. It brings me closer to history. It helps me understand the past in a way otherwise impossible. In my life as a singer, I have had the great fortune of singing the music of Bach in the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig; Mozart, in the Cuvilliés Theatre, in Munich; and Palestrina, in a church in Rome, associated with Palestrina. In Rome, as mass was chanted in Latin, sunlight poured in through the windows of the church. We were singing the "Sanctus" from a mass by Palestrina. As the incense began to rise from the chancel, around the altar, it billowed and rolled and glowed in the radiant streams of diagonal light. Palestrina's vocal lines intermingled, floated upward, like the smoke gently rising in the beams of light, and it struck me! He had seen what I was seeing, heard what I was hearing, and smelled what I was smelling. This music lived in Palestrina's mind, and for a brief moment, I was there. I could not have been closer to a man who had lived some 500 years ago. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wept. These are the kinds of experiences I want to share with my students. For me, music is magic; it's time travel. It connects us to the past and projects us forward into the future. I want my students to embody thoughtful reflections of the past, respectful representations of the present, and hopeful projections of the future.

James Taylor

Music is a reflection of the world around us. It mirrors our feelings and emotions; expresses our fears and hopes; and evokes greatest joy, or deepest sorrow. It can incite to action, or soothe the soul. It is my belief that music should be experienced and practiced with an awareness of the world around us. Context is key. It is necessary for artists, to understand the music they perform as it pertains to the history of the world, and its relationship to other arts at the time of its composition. It is equally important for us to understand what music from both the past and present is saying to us, as artists, today. As musicians, it is our job to communicate. As singers, we have a double responsibility to express with both our music and our words. Singers are the only musicians graced with words, which are often, in and of themselves, exquisite music. We use words to communicate: to describe what we see, to elaborate on our feelings and explore our emotions. I encourage my students to see and experience the world we live in. I want them to understand history, and how it has influenced literature, the visual arts, architecture, and of course music. This is why I love music, especially music of the past. It brings me closer to history. It helps me understand the past in a way otherwise impossible. In my life as a singer, I have had the great fortune of singing the music of Bach in the Thomaskirche, in Leipzig; Mozart, in the Cuvilliés Theatre, in Munich; and Palestrina, in a church in Rome, associated with Palestrina. In Rome, as mass was chanted in Latin, sunlight poured in through the windows of the church. We were singing the "Sanctus" from a mass by Palestrina. As the incense began to rise from the chancel, around the altar, it billowed and rolled and glowed in the radiant streams of diagonal light. Palestrina's vocal lines intermingled, floated upward, like the smoke gently rising in the beams of light, and it struck me! He had seen what I was seeing, heard what I was hearing, and smelled what I was smelling. This music lived in Palestrina's mind, and for a brief moment, I was there. I could not have been closer to a man who had lived some 500 years ago. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wept. These are the kinds of experiences I want to share with my students. For me, music is magic; it's time travel. It connects us to the past and projects us forward into the future. I want my students to embody thoughtful reflections of the past, respectful representations of the present, and hopeful projections of the future.

"The Evangelist was the number-one Bach Evangelist in the world today: James Taylor, a tenor from Houston. […] His singing is almost impossibly fresh, lovely — and accurate. It is also extraordinarily easy. Mr. Taylor goes for a high note like other people reach for a grape.

And he has a thorough understanding of what he is doing. He can put some vinegar in his voice, when he needs to. And his diction is very, very clear. As I've noted in reviews past, Mr. Taylor is almost eerily perfect. " (Jay Nordlinger) Devoting much of his career to oratorio and concert literature, tenor James Taylor has performed throughout the United States, South America, Japan, Israel, and in virtually all of the major concert halls of Europe.

At the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Professor Taylor teaches a studio of graduate-level vocalists in the early music, oratorio, and art song program. He is regularly featured in performance on the School’s Faculty Artist Series.

James Taylor can be heard on recordings of nearly all of the major repertoire, including Dvořák’s Stabat Mater, Bach’s Christmas and Easter oratorios, Magnificat, and St. John Passion, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Mendelssohn’s Paulus, and Britten’s War Requiem. He has recorded for Sony, Hänssler Classic, Harmonia Mundi, Limestone Records, Naxos Records, and ArkivMusic, among other labels.

James Taylor attended Texas Christian University as a student of Arden Hopkin. He studied as a Fulbright Scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich, graduating in 1993, with a Meisterklassendiplom, and was a member of the Young Ensemble at the Bavarian State Opera from 1992-1994.

Performances
Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Concentus Musicus Wien, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Boston Early Music Festival.