James Crabb

Classical Accordion

Artistic Director, Four Winds Festival

Management: Australasia

Website: http://www.jamescrabb.com

 Hamlet, Glyndebourne Festival Opera
“…Accordionist James Crabb might have an operatic career ahead of him. Dean’s decision to use this non-operatic instrument in the play-within-the-play scene is a masterstroke. It is such an unexpected sonority, and Crabb’s virtuosic playing underpins the broad comedy.”
Michael Halliwell, ABR,  20 June 2017

Sally Beamish, The Singing,  BIS Recordings with Royal Scottish National Orchestra
“…a brilliant performance from James Crabb’
Bruce Reader, Classical Reviewer, 31 October 2015

 “…The Singing – executed with effortless fluency and contagious flair by its dedicatee James Crabb
Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine December 2015

 “The great strength of this Victorian Opera production, directed by Leigh Warren, is the impressive Tango Nuevo Ensemble, with James Crabb’s remarkable classical accordion that expresses the passionate heart of Piazolla’s tango.”
Kate Herbert, Herald Sun

‘”…an accordionist of dazzling virtuosity..., an embryonic genius emerged in James Crabb and a fine ambassador for his chosen instrument...’
Michael White, The Independent on Sunday, UK

“…Crabb was a magnificent soloist with outstanding tonal variety, rhythmical conviction and a superb sense of colour and projection”’
 Peter McCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald

“… Crabb presented himself as a consummate master of his instrument…’
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times, UK

Scottish born James Crabb is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading ambassadors of the classical accordion. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with classical accordion pioneer Mogens Ellegaard and was awarded the Carl Nielsen Music Prize, Denmark in 1991. James has been Artistic Director of Four Winds Festival, Bermagui NSW since 2016.

Critics internationally have praised him for his breathtaking virtuosity and versatile musicianship. He has performed worldwide as soloist with orchestras and ensembles including the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Nash Ensemble, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

His solo and chamber music repertoire ranges from original contemporary works, frequently collaborating with composers, to transcriptions from Baroque through to the 21st Century, Tango Nuevo and folk music. He also performs and directs chamber orchestras from the instrument.

James’ great passion and acclaimed authority for the music of Astor Piazzolla has been highlighted by several concert performances with the original members of Piazzolla’s own quintet along with two highly acclaimed recordings, Song of the Angel as soloist and arranger with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and The Quintets with Richard Tognetti and the quintet named Tango Jam. He is also featured in the documentary Astor Piazzolla in Portrait published by Opus Arte. In 2005 James directed from the accordion Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires at the Royal Danish Opera.

James has recorded with his accordion duo colleague Geir Draugsvoll for EMI Classics transcriptions of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This duo performs regularly worldwide and collaborates frequently with the Tero Saarinen Dance Company from Finland.

He was professor of classical accordion at the Royal Danish Academy of Jusic in Copenhagen from 1995 - 2010 and also held a long-standing guest professorship at the University of Music and Dramatic arts in Graz, Austria.

Highlights of recent seasons include Piazzolla’s Aconcagua with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Ulster Orchestra, conducting and performing in Victorian Opera’s production of Maria de Buenos Aires, Stravinsky’s Petrouchka with the Tero Saarinen Dance Company in Europe and Asia, the world premiere of a new work by Magnar Am in Oslo and later in Japan, Gubaidulina’s 7 Words with the BBC Symphony, recording the Sally Beamish concerto for accordion “The Singing” with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for Swedish label BIS as well as playing this work at the BBC Proms, a Victorian tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, performances with the Camerata Salzburg, Australia Ensemble, Sydney Omega Ensemble, Southern Cross Soloists, Black Arm Band and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and at the Peasmarsh Festival, England, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Adelaide Festival, with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Brett Dean in a new Accordion/Viola duo presentation and a collaboration in Townsville, repeated in Brisbane, with Opera Queensland and Dance North on a new project entitled “Abandon”, based on the music of Handel.

More recently James has worked as mentor and teacher at the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Music Camp, given recitals with Genevieve Lacey throughout Australia, appeared at the Canberra International Music Festival and Huntington Festival and with Elision at ANAM. 

Maintaining a high international profile, in 2017 James appeared as guest soloist and director of a new Piazzolla festival in Buenos Aires, performed the Birtwistle work The Last Supper with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and created a major role on stage, written especially for him, in Brett Dean’s new opera ‘Hamlet’ at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, a role which he reprises this year at the Adelaide Festival. He also returned to the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville and curated the 2017 ‘UKARIA 24’. Other 2018 engagements include a Musica Viva recital in Hobart and performances with ANAM.

James also continues his two exciting collaborations, one with violinist Anthony Marwood and the other with recorder player Genevieve Lacey. Crabb-Lacey’s first recording together with ABC Classics, Heard This and Thought of You was released in August 2015.

James Crabb is managed by Graham Pushee: graham@artsmanagement.com.au 
 February 2018
This biography is for general information purposes only and not for publication.
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