James Reese is a frequently sought tenor soloist with leading orchestras and ensembles throughout North America. He often collaborates with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the American Bach Soloists, the Washington Bach Consort, TENET Vocal Artists, the Bourbon Baroque Orchestra, Lyric Fest, and the Gamut Bach Ensemble. He is also an active recitalist and presents song recitals with his friend and collaborator, pianist Daniel Overly. Together, they debuted at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society with a concert-length recital of Schubert, Boulanger, Wolf, and a world premiere by Gregory W. Brown.
In the 2022-23 season, James debuted in two chamber operas with the Boston Early Music Festival, Lully and Charpentier. He also appears as Mercuré in their production of Henry Desmarest’s Circé, which the Festival recorded for release on the CPO / Chandos label. James will also return to the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (From Muffat to Mason.) He made solo debuts with the Sebastians (Bach Mass in G) and the American Festival Orchestra (Utah, Bach, St. John Passion.)
Further afield, he looks forward to debuts with Tafelmusik (Canada), Symphony Nova Scotia, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Bach Collegium San Diego, and Cantata Collective.
James is a noted interpreter of baroque music, giving performances both “splendid” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “captivating” (Broad Street Review). Following his Carnegie Hall solo debut in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the New York Choral Society, the New York Classical Review noted, “the high, easy tenor of James Reese…floated beautifully on its own over the long, gentle lines of the Benedictus.” Following a performance of Handel’s Messiah with the American Bach Soloists, Classical Sonoma wrote, “It would have been nearly impossible to find a more satisfying solo quartet than the young singers who graced this performance…tenor James Reese sang with telling dramatic urgency and effortlessly produced fioritura.“
More recently, The New York Classical Review wrote, “The most bravura singing was provided by Reese in the Quoniam (Bach Mass in G Major.) Gaia Satermoe-Howard played the oboe obbligato with a poignant, pliant sound that perfectly complemented Reese’s shining tenor and forthright delivery. Their execution of the intricate ornamentation with which Bach adorned the musical line was captivating.”
An advocate for new music, James was a founding member of the Philadelphia vocal ensemble Variant 6 and performed with them until 2022. During his time, the ensemble premiered over 25 works for vocal sextet and released two records of contemporary vocal music. James sings frequently with other leading choruses and vocal ensembles, including Tenebrae, Blue Heron, Seraphic Fire, The Crossing, and Gallicantus.
James has recorded on the ECM, Harmonia mundi, Innova, and Albany labels; He appears as a soloist on several discs released on the Hyperion Label, including singing the Evangelist in Heinrich Schütz’s Christmas Oratorio on Historia der Geburt Christi ‘The Christmas Story’, SWV435, released in 2019. Of that performance, The Academy of Sacred Drama wrote, “A series of scenes was connected by a single narrator, the Evangelist; the bulk of the singing lay with Mr. Reese, who impressed with his agile voice and penetrating timbre.“
James is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. He holds a master’s degree from Yale University’s School of Music, where he studied with James Taylor at the Institute of Sacred Music. James is the 2018 winner of the Margot Fassler Award for the Performance of Music at Yale. He also won the Career Advancement Award – which recognizes ‘especially promising young artists’ – from the Musical Fund Society. In 2023, James won a GRAMMY award as a soloist singing the music of Edie Hill on the record Born, released by The Crossing. He lives in Philadelphia.