BMus (Hons) LRAM ARAM
James Boyd is an extraordinary musician, a Classical Guitarist of international repute and an inspirational teacher. He performs as a soloist at major international festivals and concert halls and works regularly with some of the finest of today’s musicians.
He is noted for his advocacy of the guitar amongst leading composers. Performances of music written for him by Jonathan Dove and Joseph Phibbs have been particular highlights.
James is also a leading figure in promoting the guitar in combination with singers, a partnership that he sees as the ultimate in chamber music because of its intimacy and poetry. Countertenor Michael Chance, tenors Robin Tritschler and Joshua Ellicott and the countertenor James Laing have all worked with James on music spanning 500 years.
Throughout his career there has been a strong focus on English repertoire. His love for the landscape and coastline of Britain has inspired his music making and he brings a uniquely English voice to an instrument more generally associated with Spain.
James’ acclaimed album Shapes of Sleep was recorded at Snape Maltings Concert Hall and selected by Gramophone Magazine as an Editor’s Choice album. It sets a high standard for guitar recording thanks to the work of producer John Taylor, the glorious acoustics of The Maltings, and James’ poetic and vocal playing style. Recent recordings for NMC and a Radio 3 broadcast from the Sage Gateshead are also noteworthy for their focus on English repertoire, placing music commissioned by James in the context of great repertoire of the past.
James is a winner of the Royal Academy’s Julian Bream Prize and The Robert Spencer Memorial Award. His work has been funded by the Arts Council and National Lottery. In 2014 James was elected an associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of his distinguished contribution to music. He continues to pursue his dream of creating a legacy of new music for the guitar and is building the community of world class singers who work with him in concert.
James is a teaching artist and has given masterclasses at international festivals, alongside the likes of Alasdair Nicolson and Sally Beamish. His work in these settings has covered everything from teaching classical composers the intricacies of the guitar to inspiring students at surrounding schools. He has lectured at the Royal Academy of Music and tutored at the University of East Anglia.
James has extensive experience of teaching at private and state schools in Norfolk and London. He transforms students’ experience of music through theatre, poetry and literature in addition to the wonderful repertoire of the classical guitar.
A feature of James’ teaching is his ability to make connections across genres and apply them to music. He draws upon his years of experience and his continuing development as a performer at the highest level and uses his wide ranging interests in a number of other fields to inspire students. Performance psychology, Alexander Technique, Tai Chi Chen, slacklining, juggling, sailing, wild swimming, barefoot running; all these things influence his teaching.
From his experience and research into human excellence he has created a system of principles that underly performance and learning in any area. He teaches these principles at the Norfolk Centre for Young Musicians, a division of the Guildhall School of Music and through his business Taking the Tension out of Learning.
“Lyrical style enriched by a gorgeous tone make this a guitar recital to
savour... would that there were more classical guitarists around with
Boyd’s taste and imagination”
— Gramophone Magazine
“A virtuoso musician... a homage to life”
— Classic Boat Magazine
— The Independent
“The great delight here is the warm, songful, sometimes sing-song lines James Boyd coaxes from his guitar. So that, in Dowland and Tippett alike, he remains a comforting and enthusiastic companion. A clever programme plays to Boyd’s strengths—not only his full-bodied tone but also his intelligence. These are performances that are always going somewhere”
— Gramophone Magazine
“Britten’s expansive solo work reconstitutes in 20 century terms Dowland’s ancient melancholia, while Tippett’s slightly kinky and harmonically prodigious Blue Guitar emerges as the wild card. Recorded at the Snape Maltings, this album is a beautiful thing”
— Classic fm Magazine