James Weeks is a composer and conductor specialising in new music, based in the UK. His music is performed and broadcast worldwide and four portrait discs of his work have been released to date: Mala punica (Winter&Winter, 2017), Signs of Occupation (Métier 2016), mural (confront 2015) and TIDE (Métier 2013). His music can also be heard on the Wandelweiser, HCR and NMC labels. He has written for many leading ensembles and soloists including Plus-Minus, Quatuor Bozzini, London Sinfonietta, New London Chamber Choir, Phoenix Piano Trio, EXAUDI, Ekmeles, Mira Benjamin, Alison Balsom, Apartment House and Anton Lukoszevieze. His music is published by University of York Music Press.
His work is typically focused on music for soloists or small ensembles, exploring pared-down, ‘primary’ musical syntaxes and systems, with particular interests in modality, microtonality, modularity and indeterminacy, embodied/haptic dimensions of sound, and plain-speaking. Major works include Schilderkonst (mixed ensembles, 2003-4), TIDE (ensemble and electronics, 2007-10), the South London Harmonies series (for various ensembles, 2008-11), Mala punica/Walled Garden (eight voices and six instruments, 2008-9/2015), The Freedom of the Earth (chorus and instruments, 2011), Three Trios (piano trio and tapes, 2010-11), Radical Road (voices with stones, 2014) and Primo Libro (6 voices, 2012-16).
Current projects (January 2018) include a new string quartet for Quatuor Bozzini, a choral installation for experimental vocal collective Musarc, and an ongoing series of pieces for CoMA (Contemporary Music for All), with whom he has been closely associated since 2014. He has also recently edited the CoMA Partsong Book, a volume of new experimental music for small vocal groups, published in March 2018.
In 2002 he founded EXAUDI with soprano Juliet Fraser, now regarded as one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for new music. As well as maintaining a busy international touring and recording schedule with EXAUDI, he is in great demand as a guest conductor, working regularly with instrumental ensembles and orchestras such as Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBCSSO, London Sinfonietta, musikFabrik, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and L’Instant Donné. He has also worked extensively with amateur musicians, both at CoMA and in early music fora and summer schools around the UK. He was Musical Director of New London Chamber Choir and Orlando Chamber Choir (London) from 2007-2011.
He is also active as a writer on new music, and occasionally appears as a pianist. In 2006 he co-founded the ensemble Kürbis with the composer Claudia Molitor, dedicated to the performance of contemporary and experimental chamber music.
He studied composition with Michael Finnissy, and was awarded a PhD in Composition from the University of Southampton in 2005. Previously Associate Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London from 2012-17, he took up the post of Associate Professor of Composition at Durham University in October 2017.