James Moore is a composer, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has been active on the East Coast since 2004, earning the titles of “local electric guitar hero” by Time Out New York and “model new music citizen” by the New York Times. Performing on guitars, banjos, mandolins and home-made instruments, Moore draws on an eclectic array of influences from folk, jazz, contemporary classical music and experimental theater.
A founding member and director of the electric guitar quartet Dither, Moore also leads the Hands Free, a folk-inspired acoustic quartet with fellow performer-composers Caroline Shaw (violin), Nathan Koci (accordion) and Eleonore Oppenheim (bass). He also performs with the avant-grunge/sloppy-math rock band Forever House with Meaghan Burke (voice/cello), James Ilgenfritz (bass) and Peter Wise (drums), as well as in a duo with violinist compatriot Andie Springer. As a chamber and orchestral musician, Moore has appeared with Alarm Will Sound, Bang on a Can, Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion, the Crossing Choir, the LA Phil New Music Group, Wet Ink, Santa Fe Opera and Clogs.
His first solo recording, a new interpretation of John Zorn’s notorious guitar etudes The Book of Heads, was released on Tzadik in 2015, accompanied with a film by director Stephen Taylor. Additionally, Moore has recorded several of Zorn's game pieces on “Dither plays Zorn,” which was dubbed a “top avant album” of the year by Rolling Stone. Other recording highlights include Ted Hearne’s Sound From the Bench, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in music, and Mason Bates’ Grammy-winning recording of hia opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, for which Moore was a steel-string guitar soloist.
As a composer, Moore enjoys bringing together unusual ensembles of artists and developing works through collaboration and improvisation. Recent projects include Send Back My Love for himself performing on electric resonator guitar with mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, Desolation Pops for pianist Kathleen Supové with the Rhythm Method String Quartet and The Untroubled Mind, a song cycle for vocalist/fiddler Anna Roberts-Gevalt, cellist Theresa Wong and Ellen Fullman performing on her 50-foot “long-string instrument.” His concert music also includes pieces for the violin duo String Noise, triple harpist Claire Happel, chamber orchestra Contemporaneous and classical guitarist Rene Izquierdo.
Moore works frequently as a collaborator in theater, dance and multimedia projects; he has performed extensively with the New York City Players. As an onstage musician, singer, actor and music arranger, he has taken part in the international tours of NYCP’s Neutral Hero and The Evening. Other notable staged projects include composer David Lang and choreographer Susan Marshall’s electrified dance piece PLAY/PAUSE, Object Collection’s It’s All True, a maximalist opera constructed from the live archives of the rock group Fugazi and Bryce Dessner’s Triptych, a meditation on the works of Robert Mapplethorpe.
Moore received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of California, Santa Cruz, his master’s in classical guitar performance from Yale University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in music composition at Princeton University. He has served on the faculty of Princeton’s Atelier program and has been a guest lecturer at universities nationwide and abroad. His writings include articles for the publications NewMusicBox and Arcana: Musicians on Music.