James Bagwell maintains an active schedule throughout the United States as a conductor of choral, operatic and orchestral music. In 2009 he was appointed Music Director of The Collegiate Chorale and led them in concerts at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall during the 2009–2010 season. He was also named Principal Guest Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York. Since 2003 he has been Director of Choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. He has also prepared The Concert Chorale of New York for performances with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mostly Mozart Festival (broadcast nationally in 2006 on Live from Lincoln Center)—all in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. From 2005-2010 he was Music Director of The Dessoff Choirs in New York, which under his leadership made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall in addition to their regular season. In 2009 The Dessoff Symphonic Choir appeared with The New York Philharmonic performing both Mahler’s Eighth Symphony and Britten’s War Requiem for Lorin Maazel’s final concerts as Music Director. This summer he will lead a production the rarely performed operetta The Chocolate Soldier for Bard’s SummerScape in addition to marking his fifth season as chorus master for The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. Some of the highlights of the upcoming 2010-2011 season will include him conducting Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem at Carnegie Hall, and a rare performance of Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall. In July 2011, The Collegiate Chorale will appear in three concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
James Bagwell has trained choruses for a number of major American and International orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, The American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with noted conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw.
For twelve seasons, he has been Music Director for the May Festival Youth Choir in Cincinnati, which was recently featured on the radio program From the Top. He has conducted some 25 productions as Music Director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Candide, Sweeney Todd, and The Merry Widow, among others. At Bard SummerScape he has lead various theatrical works, most notably The Tender Land, which received glowing praise from The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Opera News. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Jerusalem Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. For three seasons he was Artistic Director of The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.
He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. He has taught since 2000 at Bard College, where he is the chair of the undergraduate music department and co-director of the graduate program in conducting.