James K. Bass, a Grammy Award-winning conductor and singer, is professor and director of choral studies at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. He is on the faculty and serves as the program director for the Professional Choral Institute at the Aspen Music Festival. He is associate conductor for the Miami-based ensemble Seraphic Fire and is artistic director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers.
An active soloist and ensemble artist, Bass made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut in 2017, singing with Franz Welser-Möst in Miami and at Severance Hall in Cleveland. Other engagements as soloist include the New World Symphony with Michael Tilson Thomas, the Florida Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Back Bay Chorale and Orchestra, Firebird Chamber Orchestra and the Sebastians. He has appeared with many professional vocal ensembles such as Seraphic Fire, Conspirare, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Trinity Wall Street, Apollo Master Chorale, Vox Humanae, True Concord and Spire.
In 2020, he won a Grammy in the category of best choral performance for the recording of “The Passion of Yeshua” by Richard Danielpour on which he served as chorus master and vocal soloist. He was the featured baritone soloist on the Grammy-nominated recording “Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings,” with fellow singer Lauren Snouffer, conductor Craig Hella-Johnson and the Grammy-winning ensemble Conpirare. He is one of 13 singers on the Grammy-nominated disc “A Seraphic Fire Christmas” and appears on CD recordings on the Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Albany and Seraphic Fire Media labels.
Bass was selected by the master conductor of the Amsterdam Baroque Soloists, Ton Koopman, to be one of only 20 singers for a presentation of cantatas by J.S. Bach in Carnegie Hall and was an auditioned member of Robert Shaw’s workshop choir at Carnegie. He has appeared as conductor with the Florida Orchestra during its annual education concerts.
As artistic director for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the official chorus of the Florida Orchestra, he was responsible for five recordings and multiple world premieres. In 2012, he served as chorus master and co-editor for the Naxos recording “Sea Drift/Appalachia” featuring the Florida Orchestra and conducted by Stefan Sanderling. In 2014, he prepared the recording “Holiday Pops Live!,” conducted by the principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik. During his tenure as a chorus master, he has prepared choirs for Sir Colin Davis, Sir David Willcocks, Jahja Ling, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, Giancarlo Guerrero, Michael Francis, Marcelo Lehninger, Stefan Sanderling, Evan Rogister, Danail Rachlev, Joshua Weilerstein, Markus Huber, David Lockington, Xian Zhang, Patrick Quigley and Neal Stulberg.
His professional career has coincided with the development of Seraphic Fire as one of the premier vocal ensembles in the United States. He has been actively involved as soloist, ensemble artist, editor, producer and preparer for 14 of the ensemble’s recordings and routinely conducts the ensemble in Miami and on tour. During the summer of 2011, he co-founded the Professional Choral Institute. In its inaugural year of recording, Seraphic Fire and PCI received a Grammy nomination for best choral performance for their recording of Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. As the director of education for the ensemble, he has been involved with annual events that serve more than 2,000 students in the Miami-Dade county area each year. In 2017, Seraphic Fire and UCLA launched an educational initiative titled the Ensemble Artist Program that aims to identify and train the next generation of high-level ensemble singers.
Bass received his doctorate of musical arts degree from the University of Miami, where he was a doctoral fellow, and is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy.
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