Called “stark, haunting elegance” with “intimate focus” by The Washington Post, the music of Colombian-born composer/sound maker James Díaz strives to create unique sonic textures, sound masses, and interactive environments. Deeply influenced by the concept of psychedelia, his music also draws from elements of graphic design, Latin-America landscapes, and photography.
James is currently working on his studio album “[speaking in a foreign language]” with violinist Julia Suh, as well as on a new orchestra work to be premiered by the New York Philharmonic and Juilliard at the Lincoln Center in 2023.
Serving as the 2019 composer-in-residence for the Medellin Philharmonic, James premiered "RETRO," his concerto for orchestra and electronics.
James has won multiple international and national awards, such as the 2015 National Prize of Music in Composition from the Colombian Ministry of Culture for "Saturn Lights", his concerto for percussion trio and orchestra. His orchestral piece "Frack[in]g" was awarded the 2018 Bogotá Philharmonic Prize in Composition. Similarly, James has been a fellow at the Orchestra of St. Luke’s DeGaetano Institute, the American Composers Orchestra's Underwood Readings, the Nashville Symphony Composers Lab, the Loretto Project, the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and the International Winter Festival of Campos do Jordao.
His music has been performed by orchestras such as the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Basel Sinfonietta, National Symphony of Colombia, American Composers Orchestra, Medellin Philharmonic, Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony, Bogotá Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and EAFIT Symphony, and by ensembles such as Longleash, Yarn/Wire, Sō Percussion, Unheard-of//ensemble, Efferus Quartet, Apply Triangle, Quartet121, Camará Ensamble, ZOFO, and National Sawdust Ensemble.
Similarly, as collaboration with filmmaker/producer Leticia Akel Escárate, his film music has been presented at the SIFF Seattle International Film Festival ShortsFest, Palm Springs International ShortFest, Madrid FCM-PNR Festival, Cinemaissí Festival (Finland), and the Huesca, Quito, Sao Paulo, and Santiago international festivals.
James is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at the University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin fellow.