James Sommerville joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as principal horn in January 1998. After winning the highest prizes at the Munich, Toulon, and CBC Young Performers competitions, and with the support of the CBC and generous grants from the Canada Council and the Macmillan Foundation, Mr. Sommerville embarked on a solo career that has brought critically acclaimed appearances with all the major Canadian orchestras, the radio orchestras of Bavaria and Berlin, and many other orchestras throughout North America and Europe.
His disc of the Mozart horn concertos with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra won the JUNO Award for Best Classical Recording in Canada. His CBC recordings of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings and Canticle III were nominated for Junos in 1999 and 1997. Mr. Sommerville is a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, with whom he tours regularly worldwide, and with whom he has recorded Mozart’s Quintet in E-flat for horn and strings, K.407, for BSO Classics. He has also recorded chamber music for the Deutsche Grammophon, Telarc, CBC, Summit, and Marquis labels. Mr. Sommerville previously played for the symphony orchestras of Toronto and Montreal, the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, and as acting solo horn of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe; thus he has traveled throughout the globe and recorded extensively as an orchestral player. He is heard regularly on the CBC network in various chamber music combinations and has recorded all of the standard horn repertoire for broadcast over the past twenty years.
As a guest artist and faculty member, Mr. Sommerville has performed at many chamber music festivals, including the Festival of the Sound, the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival, Scotia Festival, Domaine Forget, Sarasota, and the Banff International Festival of the Arts. Recent noteworthy solo performances include the world premiere of Christos Hatzis’s Winter Solstice for horn and strings in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; the North American premiere of Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; John Williams’s Horn Concerto, with the composer conducting the BSO at Tanglewood; and, performing on natural horn, Weber’s Concertino, which was broadcast live on National Public Radio with the Handel & Haydn Society led by Christopher Hogwood. Future engagements include concerto appearances with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in London and the National Symphony of Costa Rica.
Besides performing as a horn player, Mr. Sommerville is also artistic director of the Hamilton Philharmonic, one of Canada’s venerable professional symphony orchestras; he maintains an active and growing conducting career, presenting a full season of subscription and educational concerts in Hamilton each year. Mr. Sommerville teaches at the anglewood Music Center, the Longy School, and the New England Conservatory of Music. His previous featured appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra have included Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 1 (at Tanglewood in 2000), Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (January 2001), Martin’s Concerto for Seven Winds, Timpani, Percussion, and String Orchestra (October 2001), the American premiere of Ligeti’s Hamburg Concerto (January/February 2002), and, most recently, at Tanglewood in 2004, John Williams’s Horn Concerto.