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James Girling

James is a twenty-one-year-old guitarist at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he is completing his studies for the BMus(Hons) having been selected onto the RNCM’s Accelerated Pathway. His instrumental tutor at the RNCM is internationally renowned classical guitarist Craig Ogden.

In 2016, James has been selected as a finalist for the RNCM’s most prestigious competition: the Gold Medal, held in June. Recently, James has also been awarded The Stan Barker Memorial Prize for Jazz Improvisation, the Emscote bursary from Edward Dusinberre of the Takacs Quartet, and a Help Musicians UK Postgraduate Award. Also a finalist in the RNCM Concerto Competition, James has performed in masterclasses for renowned guitarists such as Elena Papandreou, Michael Lewin, Julian Byzantine, Gordon Crosskey and the Katona Duo, as well as for jazz musicians Mike Walker, Jason Rebello and Julian Argüelles.

Self-taught as a jazz and classical guitarist from an early age, James won the Alcester Young Musician of the Year competition in 2010. Subsequently, he was awarded the Advanced Young Musician Scholarship by the Warwickshire County Music Service to study classical guitar with Martin Högman. As well as being the guitarist in the Warwickshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, James performed as featured classical guitar soloist at the annual Stratford-on-Avon and Leamington Spa music festivals and at Coughton Court (National Trust). After achieving the ABRSM Diploma in Music Performance in 2012, he formed the Girling Duo with his younger brother, in which he has performed Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and Fantasía para un Gentilhombre.

Among his numerous ensembles, which range diversely from original Afrobeat/Ethiojazz (Agbeko: winner of the RNCM Cross-School Chamber Music Competition) and New Orleans to classical duos with cello, flute and mezzo-soprano, James’ Nexus Guitar Duo has given numerous recitals across the North West, including at the Etihad Stadium, Bridgewater Hall, Leeds International Concert Season and Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre. While arranging for these ensembles, James has also been commissioned to write arrangements for a collaboration between Craig Ogden and Jacqui Dankworth.

As the guitarist in the RNCM Big Band, James has performed alongside eminent British jazz musicians including Tim Garland, Julian Joseph, Nikki Iles, Tina May and Mark Nightingale, and was broadcast live on Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme in the Big Band’s revival of the music of the Northern Dance Orchestra. His own contemporary jazz quintet, artephis, is the Jazz North Introduces artist (2015-16). Described by internationally renowned jazz guitarist Mike Walker as having ‘an organic, collectively individual sound’, they have already been featured at many major jazz festivals across the North, as well as at the Bridgewater Hall, Matt & Phreds jazz club and Dunham Massey. A principal composer for artephis, James’ composition ‘Chagrin’ is featured on the first ever CD of selected performers at the Marsden Jazz Festival.

James plays a 2013 Paul Sheridan classical guitar, and Gibson 339 and Gretsch Historic Series jazz guitars.

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