James Bagwell maintains an active international schedule as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music. He was recently named associate conductor of The Orchestra Now (TON) and was appointed principal guest conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in 2009. He has led both ensembles in concerts at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. He served as music director of The Collegiate Chorale from 2009-2015. Highlights included conducting rarely-performed operas at Carnegie Hall, including Bellini’s Beatrice di Tenda, Rossini’s Möise et Pharaon, and Boito’s Mefistofele. He conducted the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s Toltec Symphony and Osvaldo Golijov’s Oceana at Carnegie Hall. His performance of Kurt Weill’s Knickerbocker Holiday at Alice Tully Hall was recorded live for Gaslight Records and is the only complete recording of the work. He has collaborated since 2011 with singer and composer Natalie Merchant, conducting orchestras across the country, including the San Francisco and Seattle Symphonies. Other recent performances include Glass’s Another Look at Harmony at the Park Avenue Armory and leading the Little Opera Theatre of New York’s production of Rossini’s Opportunity Makes the Thief.
Bagwell has trained choruses for American and international orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with such noted conductors as Charles Dutoit, Andris Nelsons, Alan Gilbert, Gianandrea Noseda, Valery Gergiev, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Ivan Fischer, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw.
Bagwell prepared The Collegiate Chorale for numerous concerts at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland and for programs with The Israel Philharmonic in Israel and the Salzburg Festival. 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 on Live from Lincoln Center)—all in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. Since 2003 he has been director of choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. In 2011 and 2012 he conducted the Amici New York Orchestra at the OK Mozart Festival, and in December 2014 made his second appearance with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in a highly acclaimed performance of Messiah.
Bagwell conducted some twenty-five productions as music director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Bernstein’s Candide, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, among others. At Bard SummerScape he has lead various theatrical works, most notably Copland’s 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, the Interlochen Music Festival, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. From 2005-2010 he was music director of The Dessoff Choirs in New York, who under his leadership made numerous appearances at Carnegie Hall in addition to their regular season. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. Bagwell is Professor of Music at Bard College and Director of Performance Studies in the Bard College Conservatory of Music.