Investing in the musical life and legacy of Philadelphia

Member Spotlight: James Reese

February 20, 2024

About James
A “shining tenor” (New York Classical Review), James Reese is a frequently sought tenor soloist with leading orchestras and ensembles throughout North America. James maintains close relationships with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, the American Bach Soloists, The Sebastians, TENET Vocal Artists, the Washington BachConsort and the Boston Early Music Festival. In the 2023-24 season, he looks forward to debuts with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Bach Collegium San Diego, and Symphony Nova Scotia, and to performances across North America, Belgium, Scandinavia, and Germany. In 2023 James won a GRAMMY award as a soloist on Born, released by The Crossing, singing the music of Edie Hill. Critics have praised his performances as “captivating” (The Broad Street Review) and “splendid” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Why is MFS important to you?
“MFS will always have a special place in my musical heart. The support I received via the Career Advancement Grant was vital in an early stage of my career. Not only did the grant allow me to invest in my craft, but it instilled a confidence in me to pursue bigger musical ambitions and to take risks. Beyond that, MFS represents the tight-knit fabric of Philadelphia’s musical community, of which I’m very grateful to be a small part.”

His upcoming performances
Maintaining a full schedule of early music performances can feel a bit like owning a secret spaceship which can transport you through centuries in no time at all. This March, I have one such itinerary, beginning with grand motets of Lully and Charpentier with the Washington Bach Consort. This is music for Versailles, and for the height of French regal splendor. I’ll be singing the haute-contre voice (a French fach from the Baroque that sits somewhere between a tenor and a countertenor).

Following that, I’ll hop into my spacecraft and travel back several hundred years for a very different collection of French royal music: a collaboration with Piffaro (one of my hometown teams!) exploring the musical life at the court of Charles VIII. This music is worlds apart from the high French Baroque – Ockeghem and Agricola were the avant-garde of the late 15th-century, as they looked towards the Renaissance.