James Orent's lifelong passion for music and aviation can be traced back to his childhood heroes: the Boston Symphony Orchestra and NASA's Mercury Seven Astronauts. Since his debut at eighteen conducting Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, he has performed in thirteen countries as a conductor and violinist in music ranging from symphony, ballet and opera, to rock, film and commercial recordings.
Maestro Orent has brought world class performance standards to our treasured orchestra's musicians and roster of guest artists, raising BrSO to pre-eminent status among the region's community orchestras. This season, BrSO celebrates the return of the Feinberg Youth Competition and winter Family Concert under his direction.
Music Director of the Newton Symphony Orchestra, Phillips Academy Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, with whom he recently toured the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montreal and Quebec City, he serves on the conducting faculty of The Boston Conservatory, and continues his 25 year association with the Boston Symphony as frequent Guest Conductor, Cover Conductor and violinist with the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Last spring, he conducted the Pops on national television for Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston and shared the podium in Maestro John Williams' radio broadcast concert. He led the Pops during the 2008 telecast celebration of the Red Sox' 2007 World Series Championship, and made history with his dramatic substitution for Keith Lockhart at Chicago's Ravinia Festival in 2003.
Former Assistant Concertmaster of the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, he has conducted the Handel and Haydn Society, Fort Worth, Spokane, Springfield (MA), Scottish Rite Masons Millennium 2000, Hartford Ballet, Pro Arte Chamber, Erie Philharmonic, Erie Ballet, Boston Conservatory and Ballet, and Greater Boston Youth Symphony orchestras, among others.
Maestro Orent won his Buffalo Philharmonic conducting audition by unanimous decision on the semifinal round, earning national recognition as the first Affiliate Artists Conducting Assistant. Flying and skydiving are lifelong interests. Keith Lockhart drew upon his airline and barnstorming experience to fly Celtic musicians from New York to his home in northern Maine...directly through Hurricane Fran. He holds the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, US Parachute Association's Advanced Skydiver License, and is a member of "POPS", the "Parachutists Over Phorty Society."
Born in Boston, James M. Orent graduated Magna Cum Laude from Amherst College, winning the Sundquist Prize for Performance and Composition. He studied conducting with Charles Bruck at the Monteux School, Otto Werner Mueller at the Yale School of Music, and at Tanglewood. His violin teachers were Phillipp Naegele (Marlboro Music) and Stanley Benson of the BSO. Mr. Orent's 1790 Helmer (Czech) violin belonged to Arthur Fiedler's father, Emmanuel.