An Atlanta native, James Ferree joined the Richmond Symphony in 2012 as Principal Horn. He began piano studies at age 6, and when singing as an 11-year-old choir boy behind the horn section of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Robert Shaw in 5th grade, James was inspired to pursue a career in the horn. Soon after he began studies with Richard Deane, and in 2003 he was the recipient of the Jon Hawkins Memorial Scholarship of the International Horn Society. After a timely family move to Germany, where he studied with horn legend Hermann Baumann, he was accepted to the Juilliard School with Presidential Distinction to study with Jerome Ashby (BM) and William Purvis (MM). He then joined the New World Symphony in Miami under music director Michael Tilson Thomas, followed by his tenure at the Richmond Symphony. James has also performed as guest with the orchestras of Atlanta, Virginia, Florida, Jacksonville, Charleston, and Kansas City, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With the LA Phil, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel, James has performed as Guest Associate Principal, including on their 2016 NY-European Tour, subscription concerts, and at the Hollywood Bowl.
Solo appearances include the Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings with the RSO and Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Ètoiles at Juilliard. When he performed Glière’s Horn Concerto as a member of the New World Symphony, the South Florida Classical Review wrote, “The accuracy of James Ferree’s playing stood out…and [James] displayed a mastery of the instrument that allowed him to paint all the moods…golden sounds.”
As a chamber musician, James is active locally as a chamber artist, having performed with the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia, Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, Richmond Chamber Players, and the Staunton Music Festival. He can also be heard alongside the American Brass Quintet in their 50th Anniversary album. James has also participated in the festivals of Tanglewood, Spoleto USA, and Music Academy of the West, and has been a member of the Verbier Festival since 2010, performing with them and violinist David Garrett on his 2014 Germany tour.
While at Juilliard, James also devoted study to composition and theory with Dr. Philip Lasser and Eric Ewazen. Notable premieres include James’s Sonata on its Knees with renowned horn soloist David Jolley, Love for a Sweater with RSO concertmaster Daisuke Yamamoto, and his quintet For a Newborn with the RSO’s principal winds.
James resides in Richmond with his two cats, who do not like the horn but do like eating bugs. When not performing, he enjoys a good game of baseball or disc golf, reading a book over coffee, and participating at his church.