James Giles regularly performs to acclaim in important musical centers in America and Europe. He recently completed a tour of China and played at Warsaw’s Chopin Academy of Music. Last season he appeared as soloist with the symphony orchestras of Bangor, Boise, Evanston, and Fresno. He performed Gershwin’s Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue with the Fresno Philharmonic on five days notice, replacing the indisposed soloist. This season, in addition to performances in France, Italy, Bosnia, and China, he collaborates with the Cassatt, Chicago and Pacifica Quartets, with tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, with violinists Gerardo Ribiero and Ilya Kaler, and with the Chicago Chamber Musicians.
In an eclectic repertoire encompassing the solo and chamber music literatures, Giles is equally at home in the standard repertoire as in the music of our time. He has commissioned and premiered works by William Bolcom, C. Curtis-Smith, Stephen Hough, Lowell Liebermann, Ned Rorem, Augusta Read Thomas, Earl Wild, and James Wintle. Most of these new works are featured on Giles’s new Albany Records release entitled “American Virtuoso.”
His Paris recital in 2004 was hailed as “a true revelation, due equally to the pianist’s artistry as to his choice of program.” The critic for Helsinki’s main newspaper wrote that “Giles is a technically polished, elegant pianist.” And a London critic called his recent Wigmore Hall recital “one of the most sheerly inspired piano recitals I can remember hearing for some time” and added that “with a riveting intelligence given to everything he played, it was the kind of recital you never really forget.”
He has performed with New York’s Jupiter Symphony; the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra in Queen Elizabeth Hall; the Kharkiv Philharmonic in Ukraine; and with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Alice Tully Hall. After his Tully Hall solo recital debut, critic Harris Goldsmith wrote: “Giles has a truly distinctive interpretive persona. This was beautiful pianism – direct and unmannered.” Other tours have included concerts in Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Series, Salt Lake City’s Assembly Hall Concert Series, and in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Musikhalle in Hamburg, and the Purcell Room at London’s South Bank Centre. He has given live recitals over the public radio stations of New York, Boston, Chicago, and Indianapolis. His compact disc of works by Schumann and Prokofiev is available on England’s Master Musicians label and a recording of new American music can be found on the Albany label. As a chamber musician he has collaborated with members of the National and Chicago Symphonies and with members of the Pacifica, Cassatt, Chicago, Ying, Chester, St. Lawrence, Essex, Lincoln, and Miami Quartets, as well as singers Aprile Millo and Anthony Dean Griffey.
A native of North Carolina, Dr. Giles studied with Byron Janis at the Manhattan School of Music, Jerome Lowenthal at the Juilliard School, Nelita True at the Eastman School of Music, and Robert Shannon at Oberlin College.
The pianist received early career assistance from the Clarisse B. Kampel Foundation and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Florence with the legendary pianist Lazar Berman. He was the recipient of a fellowship grant and the Christel Award from the American Pianists Association and now serves on the APA’s National Advisory Board. He won first prizes at the New Orleans International Piano Competition, the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, and the Music Teachers National Association Competition. As a student he was awarded the prestigious William Petschek Scholarship at the Juilliard School and the Rudolf Serkin Award for outstanding graduate at the Oberlin College Conservatory. He has written for Piano and Keyboard magazine and has presented lecture-recitals at the national conventions of the Music Teachers National Association, the College Music Society, and Pi Kappa Lambda. He has served on the juries of several international piano competitions.
Dr. Giles is on the piano faculty at Northwestern University. He has recently been a guest professor at the Sibelius Academy in Finland and at Indiana University, where he taught the students of Menahem Pressler. He has formerly served on the faculties of the University of North Texas and the Interlochen Arts Academy. He is the founder of the Las Vegas Piano Institute, an educational summer program for young pianists, and is the chair of the piano department at the Eastern Music Festival during the summers.