Hilmar Cheese Company Pops Series
James Lowe, guest conductor
A leading conductor of Opera and Musical Theater, James Lowe is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the 2011 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey. This season he will also make his conducting debut with Utah Opera (Carlisle Floyd's Of Mice and Men).
At Houston Grand Opera he conducted the world premiere production and subsequent revival of The Little Prince, an opera by Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman. At HGO he has also led Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair (world premiere production), as well as the HGO Studio production of Copland’s The Tender Land. Mr. Lowe made his Pittsburgh Opera Center debut with Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and he led Sweeney Todd at Wolf Trap Opera. He conducted Mark Adamo’s Little Women at Lyric Opera Cleveland in a production directed by the composer, and he has led the Houston Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, and Dayton Opera.
Mr. Lowe conducted the Anything Goes cast album released on Ghostlight Records, for which he also served as Co-Producer. With members of the cast he has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, the CBS Early Show and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Mr. Lowe was recently seen conducting performances of the Broadway revival of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone. He toured the United States as Music Director and Conductor of the acclaimed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, and conducted the First National Tour of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza.
Mr. Lowe has appeared in concert with Sir Elton John, conducting his own orchestrations and choral arrangements of Elton’s classic songs, as well as with singer-songwriter Randy Newman. He accompanied legendary lyricist and writer Betty Comden in a performance featuring his own arrangements of Comden and Green songs, and his arrangements of Gershwin songs have been performed by renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in recitals at Lincoln Center and Wigmore Hall.
As Associate Conductor at Houston Grand Opera for several seasons he served as cover conductor, principal pianist and coach on many productions, including the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata. Mr. Lowe assisted on the world premieres of Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree and Tod Machover’s Resurrection, playing keyboards on the recordings of those operas. He can also be heard as keyboardist on HGO’s popular recording of Adamo’s Little Women. He has been on the music staff of New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and served as Resident Conductor and Chorus Master at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival. He appeared onstage as the Tavern Pianist in Santa Fe Opera’s 2001 production of Wozzeck.
Mr. Lowe has played in several rock, jazz, blues and country bands. He was the keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Backwash for five years, recording and touring the Eastern United States. He co-produced the band’s compact disc, Goin’ to the Mall, released in 1995 on Transit Records.
As a pianist, Mr. Lowe performed as soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals, including several world premieres, at such venues as the Aspen Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute, the University of Texas San Antonio New Music Festival, and the University of Colorado Artsweek Festival in Boulder. He was the Music Director of the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He taught Keyboard Literature and piano at Syracuse University, and he served on the piano and musical theater faculty at the Hochstein Music School in Rochester. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, with additional studies at the Aspen Music School and the Aspen Opera Theater Center.