James Newton (composer/flutist/conductor)
Mr. Newton’s work encompasses chamber, symphonic, and electronic music genres, compositions for ballet and modern dance, and numerous jazz and world music contexts.
Mr. Newton has been the recipient of many awards, fellowships and grants, including the Ford Foundation, Guggenheim, National Endowment of the Arts and Rockefeller Fellowships, Montreux Grande Prix Du Disque and Downbeat International Critics Jazz Album of the Year, as well as being voted the top flutist for a record-breaking 23 consecutive years in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Poll.
In 2005 Newton decided to commence the greatest challenge of his compositional career – a trilogy of large-scale sacred works: a Mass, a St. Matthew Passion and a setting of Psalm 119 for vocal soloists, choir and orchestra. The Mass, completed in early 2007, received its premiere at the 2007 Metastasio Festival in Prato, Italy. Its U.S. premiere (an expanded choral version) occurred in 2011 with Grant Gershon conducting the Los Angeles Master Chorale at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Newton completed his St. Matthew Passion in 2013 and it will receive its World premiere in Europe in 2014. Mr. Newton is the first African American and the first composer coming out of the Jazz tradition to compose a St. Matthew Passion. His research on the 119th Psalm will begin in the summer of 2013.
Described as a musician’s renaissance man, Newton has performed with and composed for many notable artists in the jazz and classical fields. His compositions have been performed by San Francisco Ballet, Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi, Anthony Davis, New York New Music Ensemble, Jose Limon Dance Company, Dino Saluzzi, Zakir Hussain, Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale, David Murray, Gloria Cheng, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, Ensemble für neue Musik (Zurich), E.A.R. Unit, Southwest Chamber Music, Jon Jang, Frank Wess, Orchestra Sinfonica D’Italia among others. Mr. Newton’s works have been performed at notable venues including Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Opera House, Cité de la Musique, Berlin National Gallery, Teatro Romano, Verona, Italy, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Hollywood Bowl, Blas Galindo Auditorium, Mexico City, Teatro Strehler, Milano, Italy, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, France, Parco Concert Hall, Tokyo, Japan, DIRECTV Music Hall, Rio De Janeiro, Amsterdam Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum.
Newton currently holds a distinguished professorship at the University of California at Los Angeles in the Department of Ethnomusicology. He has also held professorships at University of California at Irvine, California Institute of the Arts, and Cal State University Los Angeles. In May of 2005 Newton was awarded a Doctor of Arts Degree, Honoris Causa, from California Institute of the Arts.