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Musical World

James Judd

  • Conductor


James Judd is one of the pre-eminent interpreters of British orchestral music. Judd’s recording of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 with the Halle Orchestra is still a highly regarded reference standard among conductors today. He has amassed an extensive discography on the Naxos label, including an unprecedented number in partnership with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, where he is Music Director Emeritus. Recordings of works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bernstein, Copland, Gershwin and many others received critical acclaim.  A champion of the works of Gustav Mahler, Judd’s performances of this monumental composer have been praised the world over. His recording of Mahler’s Symphony No.1 was awarded the Gold Medal by France’s Diapason as well as the Toblacher Komponierhauschen for the best Mahler recording of the year. Judd’s orchestral recordings are also featured on the Decca, EMI and Philips labels.

During his eight years as Music Director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Judd brought the ensemble to a new level of visibility and international renown. In addition to recording, Judd led the NZSO on its first tour of the major concert halls of Europe, including the Concertgebouw and the Royal Albert Hall where it performed at the BBC Proms. Under Judd, the orchestra performed at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, the Osaka Festival of International Orchestras and the Auckland International Arts Festival, as well as joining in the worldwide millennium celebrations with a internationally broadcast concert featuring Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as soloist. A strong advocate of New Zealand music, Judd and the NZSO recorded each of Douglas Lilburn’s symphonies.  These Naxos recordings received rave international reviews: “James Judd secures playing of nimble polish and infectious dedication from his excellent Kiwi band.”  (Gramophone). This international praise continued with Editor’s Choice in Gramophone “Once again, I’m impressed by the ardour and sheen displayed by the NZSO, to say nothing of James Judd’s elegant and purposeful direction.” wrote Andrew Achenbach.   And again with the NZSO’s recording of Antill’s Corroboree: “This new recording by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under James Judd wins hands down – energy and precision propel the music into a realm far beyond the residue of mere “white fella’s Dreaming.”

An accomplished operatic conductor, Judd has appeared with the English National Opera, Wexford Festival and Glyndebourne Opera Festival in productions of Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Le Nozze di Figaro and La Cenerentola.   From 1993-1996 Judd served as Artistic Director of the Florida Grand Opera where he conducted works including  Don Giovanni, Un Ballo en Maschera, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and The Turn of the Screw. In addition to staged productions, Judd has conducted concert performances of Tannhauser, Fidelio and La Clemenza di Tito.   His operatic recordings include the complete operas of Meyerbeer and Donizetti.

Previous directorships include principal guest conductor of the Orchestre National de Lille (France , principal guest conductor of the Adelaide Symphony (Australia) and a groundbreaking 14 years as music director of the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra. During Judd’s tenure, contemporary programming initiatives, critically acclaimed performances and the development of a hugely successful summer festival marked a period of striking artistic growth for the ensemble, culminating in international recognition for their recordings of Walton and Mahler.  James Judd has received honorary doctorates from St. Thomas University (USA) and the University of Waikato (New Zealand).

Highlights of the 2012/2013 season include performances with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Orchestra of Tokyo, Wiener Concert Verein, the Slovenian National Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony and Britten's War Requiem at the Bucharest Festival.