Equally at home in Opera and Musical Theater, Grammy nominated conductor James Lowe continues to garner praise for “beautifully sculpted” (Opera News) performances. In the 23/24 season, Mr. Lowe makes debuts at Lyric Opera of Kansas City for The Sound of Music, San Diego Opera for El Milagro del Recuerdo, Opera San Antonio for The Pirates of Penzance, and returns to Washington National Opera for Songbird.
Last season he debuted with Teatro Lirico di Cagliari for West Side Story and The Atlanta Opera for Candide and returned to Arizona Opera for The Magic Flute and Lyric Opera of Chicago for West Side Story. He debuted with Arizona Opera for El Milagro del Recuerdo and returned to New York City Opera for the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and The Glimmerglass Festival for Sound of Music.
Jim returned to The Glimmerglass Festival for Songbird, an adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole which he arranged and orchestrated in the style of 1920s New Orleans jazz bands, Houston Grand Opera for La bohème, Lyric Opera of Chicago for West Side Story, Washington National Opera for Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, The Unicorn and Me, The Glimmerglass Festival for Show Boat , Utah Opera for The Little Prince, and Tulsa Opera for Madama Butterfly. Additionally, his arrangements can be heard on The Metropolitan Opera’s Three Divas Live in Concert that was recorded live at the Palace of Versailles. He made his European debut conducting Candide in Francesca Zambello’s production at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and Opéra National de Bordeaux, and he recently conducted Turandot at Tulsa Opera. He has also appeared at San Francisco Opera and New York City Opera, as well as on Broadway.
Mr. Lowe has had a long relationship with Houston Grand Opera, where he has led Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Sweeney Todd, Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair (world premiere production), as well as the HGO Studio production of Copland’s The Tender Land. At HGO he also conducted the world premiere production of The Little Prince, and he led Jonathan Dove’s Flight at the Pittsburgh Opera Center. He has appeared at Utah Opera leading Daniel Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas and Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men, and he conducted Mark Adamo’s Little Women at Lyric Opera Cleveland in a production directed by the composer. He has also led the Houston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Wolf Trap Opera, and the American Composers Orchestra, as well as The Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet.
On Broadway, James Lowe was the Music Director and Conductor of the recent revival of Les Misérables, as well as the Tony Award-winning revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey. He also served as the Music Supervisor for the First National Tour of this production. Mr. Lowe made his Broadway debut conducting performances of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone.
Mr. Lowe was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on the Anything Goes cast album released on Ghostlight Records, which he conducted and co-produced. With members of the cast he has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, the CBS Early Show and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. He toured the United States as Music Director and Conductor of the acclaimed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, and conducted the First National Tour of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza. He is currently the US Music Supervisor of the North American Tour of The Phantom of the Opera.
As Associate Conductor at Houston Grand Opera for several seasons he served as cover conductor, principal pianist and coach on many productions, including the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata. Mr. Lowe assisted on the world premieres of Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree and Tod Machover’s Resurrection, playing keyboards on the recordings of those operas. He can also be heard as keyboardist on HGO’s popular recording of Adamo’s Little Women. He has been on the music staff of New York City Opera, The Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and served as Resident Conductor and Chorus Master at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival. He has been the Music Director of the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas, and he appeared onstage as the Tavern Pianist in Santa Fe Opera’s 2001 production of Wozzeck.
Mr. Lowe has appeared in concert with Sir Elton John, conducting his own orchestrations and choral arrangements of Elton’s classic songs, as well as with singer-songwriter Randy Newman and the legendary Booker T. Jones. He accompanied lyricist and writer Betty Comden in a performance featuring his own arrangements of Comden and Green songs, and his arrangements of Gershwin songs have been performed by renowned mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato in recitals at Lincoln Center and Wigmore Hall.
Mr. Lowe has played in several rock, jazz, blues and country bands. He was the keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Backwash for five years, recording and touring the Eastern United States. He co-produced the band’s compact disc, Goin’ to the Mall, released in 1995 on Transit Records.
As a pianist, Mr. Lowe performed as soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals, including several world premieres, at such venues as the Aspen Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute, the University of Texas San Antonio New Music Festival, and the University of Colorado Artsweek Festival in Boulder. He taught Keyboard Literature and piano at Syracuse University, and he served on the piano and musical theater faculty at the Hochstein Music School in Rochester. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, with additional studies at the Aspen Music School and the Aspen Opera Theater Center.