Conductor and Percussionist James Beauton is currently the Director of Orchestra and Classical Music Studies at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. He began his conducting career in 2017 as director of the UC San Diego Wind Ensemble, where he led the group through a wide range of repertoire, including several world premieres. Beauton emerged on the orchestral podium in 2019, conducting a performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite with the Villa Musica Summer Orchestra in San Diego. Shortly following, he became assistant conductor of the Coachella Valley Symphony, a position that included directing the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony. James was also director of the Mt. San Jacinto College Concert Band and founded and conducted the Villa Musica Chamber Players in San Diego.
The 2022-23 season is James’ inaugural year with the Ruth Asawa SOTA Orchestra, with performances of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 and Debussy’s La Mer. His debut concert with the orchestra included collaborations with the Ruth Asawa SOTA Chorus, their choirmaster and tenor Michael Desnoyers, soprano Tonia D’Amelio, mezzo-soprano Raeeka Shehabi-Yaghmai, and bass Sergy Khalikulov in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in D minor. Other highlights this season include a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 with the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose as guest conductor.
In a workshop setting, James has conducted the Chamber Orchestra of New York, in which he learned from maestros John Farrer, Dirk Brossé, and Edward Cumming. He has also worked closely with maestro Neil Thompson and Dr. Scott Weiss at the Los Angeles Conducting Workshop and Competition, where he was selected as a finalist in 2022.
As a concert percussionist, James was the grand prize winner of the 2012 Southern California International Marimba Competition, and performed as a member of Steven Schick’s renowned percussion ensemble, red fish blue fish, from 2015-2020. As a soloist, James has performed some of the most demanding music in the percussion repertoire, including works of Stockhausen, Lachenmann, Manoury, Xenakis, Donatoni, Ferneyhough, and Grisey, among others, and has been a concerto soloist with the Michigan State University Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras, the Contemporary Chamber Players, and at the Stony Brook Day of Percussion. As a chamber musician, he has performed as a part of Monday Evening Concerts and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Noon To Midnight Festival and is a founding member of the percussion trio Tala Rasa, where they commissioned several composers, including Alejandro Vinao. James earned his Doctorate in Contemporary Music Performance from UC San Diego, a Masters in Percussion from SUNY Stony Brook, and a Bachelors of Music from Michigan State University.
Equipped with a mastery of the percussion repertoire, a theoretical background in media theory, and a robust practical application of recording technology, James’ scholarly work includes a published dissertation that explores the symbiotic connection of classical musicians and 21st century life. James is a Yamaha Performing Artist.