James Black (b. 1990)

When awarding James Black the large working grant, the Danish Arts Foundation wrote:

“With James Black, you encounter a universe of real madness where 'everything goes'. Where DIY video, hopeless choreographed performances, and accurately notated score music – among many other things – in a deliberately unsightly mix make up the work. The impossible is a deliberate dogma resulting in a unified expression, which is chaotic and almost gallows humorous, but where one senses a composer who ultimately has complete control over the final result. He is extremely consistent in what he has set out to do, and perhaps that is why you never doubt that it is James Black and not any other composer you are dealing with.” 

As the motivation touches upon, performative and theatrical elements are often used as central aspects in James Black's works. In RAUS (2017), which world premiered by the Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen at Klang Festival 2017, the composer himself plays a central role, as he sings a folk tune with his untrained voice, plays a synth solo on the keyboard, and makes hand and arm gestures in rhythmical patterns. In a review, the Norwegian music magazine Ballade describes the piece as: “a mixture of the Kodály method and The Village People’s YMCA-dance”.

James Black was born in 1990 in Torquay, England. In 2013, having studied saxophone, musicology, and composition at Oxford University, he moved to Copenhagen to complete his composition studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Taught by Hans Abrahamsen, Bent Sørensen, Jeppe Just Christensen, Niels Rosing-Schow and Hans Peter Stubbe Tejlbjærg, he graduated from the soloist class in February 2018. 

James Black received the large working grant of the Danish Arts Foundation 2020, the Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen Talent Award 2019, and Pelle-Prisen 2018.

Press photos
Download high-resolution photo by Niklas Ottander

Reviews and articles
Interview Seismograf 07.02.2018
Interview Politiken 23.02.2018
Review Debut Concert 02.03.2018
Interview DR 05.06.2018 
Review Ballade.no 11.09.2018

Review Politiken 05.06.2019
Review Seismograf 23.06.2019

Find separate reviews by each work