Described by The Daily Telegraph as ‘in a class of his own’ James Baillieu is one of the leading song and chamber music pianists of his generation. He has given solo and chamber recitals throughout the world and collaborates with a wide range of singers and instrumentalists including Benjamin Appl, Jamie Barton, Ian Bostridge, Allan Clayton, Annette Dasch, Lise Davidsen, the Elias and Heath Quartets, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Timothy Ridout, Adam Walker, and Pretty Yende. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, and the Wiener Kammersymphonie.
James Baillieu is a frequent guest at many of the world’s most distinguished music centers including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vancouver Playhouse, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, Barbican Centre, Wiener Konzerthaus, Bozar Brussels, Pierre Boulez Saal, Cologne Philharmonie, and the Laeiszhalle Hamburg. Festivals include Aix-en-Provence, Verbier, Schleswig-Holstein, Festpillene i Bergen, Edinburgh, Spitalfields, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, City of London and Brighton Festivals.
An innovative programmer, he has curated many song and chamber music festivals including series for the Brighton Festival, Wigmore Hall, BBC Radio 3, Verbier Festival, Bath International Festival, and Perth Concert Hall.
At the invitation of John Gilhooly, James Baillieu has presented his own series at the Wigmore Hall with Adam Walker, Jonathan McGovern, Ailish Tynan, Tara Erraught, Henk Neven, Iestyn Davies, Allan Clayton, and Mark Padmore amongst others. This series was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Chamber Music and Song Award for an outstanding contribution to the performance of chamber music and song in the UK.
During the 2020-21 season the artist has been engaged by the Metropolitan Opera, Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Park Avenue Armory in New York, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Cleveland Institute of Music, Hamarikyu Asahi Hall in Tokyo, Aldeburgh Festival for the Britten-Pears Young Artists Program, as well as by the Samling Foundation, Heidelberger Frühling, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and Konzerthaus Dortmund.
James Baillieu was prize winner of the Wigmore Hall Song Competition, Das Lied International Song Competition, the Kathleen Ferrier and Richard Tauber Competitions, and was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2010 and in 2012 received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust Award. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Outstanding Young Artist Award.
Recording projects include ‘Heimat’ with Benjamin Appl (Sony Classical), the complete works of CPE Bach for violin and piano with Tamsin Waley-Cohen (Signum Records), and albums on the Chandos, Opus Arte, Champs Hill, Rubicon, and Delphian Record labels as part his critically acclaimed discography.
James Baillieu is a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, a coach for the Jette Parker Young Artist Program at the Royal Opera House, a course leader for the Samling Foundation, and is head of the Song Program at the Atelier Lyrique of the Verbier Festival Academy. He also is International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music. Highly sought after for masterclasses worldwide, recent sessions of learning have brought him to the Aldeburgh Festival, Cleveland Institute of Music, Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Friends of Chamber Music, Portland, Oregon, Vancouver Academy of Music, Canada, and to the University of Waikato, New Zealand.
James appears in an exciting new realisation of Schubert’s great song cycle Winterreise filmed in the Swiss Alps. Commissioned by the BBC and SRF (directed by John Bridcut):
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0012twd (For viewers in the UK)
Read an article on James’ work as an accompanist and head of the Song Academy at Verbier Festival which has just been published at:
‘He’s an exceptional accompanist, knowing both when to hold back and let the vocal line do the work, and when to assert himself and propel the music forward.’
Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 2 January 2020
‘Yende’s partner for this recital, fellow South African James Baillieu, was extraordinary, showing all the makings of an exceptional vocal accompanist: his vivid playing never upstaged his partner, and he followed her beautifully, his choices responding to hers in real time.
Baillieu brought a gorgeous variety of tone and natural freedom in his phrasing: he offered a gossamer touch in “Der Nussbaum,” dreaming sighs in Donizetti’s “Le crépuscule,” and rippling breezes in Tosti’s “Aprile.” In Strauss’s “Zueignung” he played with concerto-like virtuosity, contrasting with the airy glitter of “Ständchen.” If Wednesday was indicative of his usual playing, Baillieu might become one of the few pianists to achieve real fame as a vocal accompanist.’
‘At the piano, Baillieu was a beautifully matched “partner in crime” (Davidsen’s phrase, in one of several disarmingly sweet spoken introductions), with quicksilver fingers in Grieg, a delicious flexibility of tempo in Strauss and delicately balanced sound throughout. And in the closing bars of Strauss’s Morgen (their second encore), he provided the most breathtaking touch of all – suspending time and allowing silence itself to speak.’
‘Baillieu, with his warm sound and empathetic ear, is one of our favourite pianists these days. His playing reminds us of something Steven Blier said about the job of the accompanist, how it’s like taking a singer by the hand and leading them down a hallway of doors. At each door, the pianist opens it for the singer, and asks if they want to go in; if they do, they join them enthusiastically, and if they don’t, the pianist simply invites the singer through the next door. Baillieu has a knack for creating a soloistic phrase out of a singer’s intent; he follows, without losing his autonomy.’
4 December 2015 – Wigmore Hall, with Iestyn Davies and Allan Clayton
“Last night’s Wigmore Hall recital by conter tenor Iestyn Davies and tenor Allan Clayton, accompanied by James Baillieu, was an all-round triumph: brilliantly programmed, superbly sung and very thought-provoking.”
David Nice, The Arts Desk, 5 December 2015
“James Baillieu was instrumental in the commission [Nico Muhly’sLorne ys my liking] and it was funded partly from his Borletti Buitoni Trust Fellowship funds. His reward was to help bring to life a remarkably striking new work, and one which rewarded Baillieu with a dazzling piano part which was far more than accompaniment.”
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 6 December 2015
“Plaudits should also go to the excellent pianist, James Baillieu, who contributed much to the make-up of the programme and accompanied with an unassertive sensitivity and imagination that illuminated every aspect of both music and text”
Rupert Christiansen, Daily Telegraph, 7 December 2015
“…these wonderful singers and their excellent accompanist James Baillieu turned [Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac] into white-hot drama.”
Michael Church, The Independent, 7 December 2015
“Baillieu gave us some gorgeous iridescent modulations at the beginning of the first song and imaginative tone painting in the final song.”
Robert Beattie Seen and heard International, 7 December 2015
“There was keen intelligence in the programming, an ear for subtle literary and musical connections and significant personal investment … There was also some of the most sheerly beautiful singing and playing to be heard from this generation of musicians.”
Anna Picard, The Times, 7 December 2015
“James Baillieu is in a class of his own, he is in the Gerald Moore/Graham Johnson bracket, a remarkable pianist.”
James Baillieu is a Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, a coach for the Jette Parker Young Artist Program at the Royal Opera House, a course leader for the Samling Foundation, and is head of the Song Program at the Atelier Lyrique of the Verbier Festival Academy. He also is International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music.
His students have won vocal and piano awards in competitions such as the the Kathleen Ferrier, Gerald Moore, Das Lied International Song Competition and Royal Overseas League Competitions among others.
Highly sought after for masterclasses worldwide, recent sessions of learning have brought him to the Aldeburgh Festival, Cleveland Institute of Music, Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Friends of Chamber Music, Portland, Oregon, Vancouver Academy of Music, Canada, and to the University of Waikato, New Zealand.. His work as an adjudicator has included judging prizes at the British music colleges, Young Classical Artist Trust (YCAT), BBC Young Musician, Das Lied International Song competition, Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme and the Royal Overseas League Competition.