Colombian composer/sound artist James Diaz, currently based in New York and Philadelphia, composes music that strives to create unique sonic textures, and environments. His music extends beyond concert music including interdisciplinary projects that explore the potential of electroacoustic and mixed media settings. Deeply influenced by the concept of psychedelia, and psychedelic rock bands, his music also draws from elements of the classical canon, architecture, Latin-America landscapes, and photography.
Serving as the 2019 composer-in-residence for the Medellin Philharmonic, James recently premiered "RETRO", a concerto for orchestra and electronics. Currently, James is working on commissions and collaborations with Sō Percussion, and Unheard-of//ensemble, as well as on the production of his conceptual album for violin. Additionally, as part of the DeGaetano Composition Institute, he composed "Behind a wall of illusions" for the Orchestra of St. Luke's. Similarly, his orchestral piece "Frack[in]g" was awarded the 2018 Bogotá Philharmonic Prize in Composition.
James won the 2015 National Prize of Music in Composition from the Colombian Ministry of Culture for "Saturn Lights", his concerto for percussion trio and orchestra. The same year, his piece was recorded by conductor Mateo Sepulveda, and the REC Symphony, with James as the producer.
James was selected as a composer fellow for the 2018 Loretto Project Festival. As a composer fellow, James wrote a piece for Longleash and received lessons from composer-in-residence, Kate Soper. Similarly, James composed a piece for piano and electronics for the Grammy-nominated duo, ZOFO as Frances Richard Composer Fellow at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.
His orchestral music has been performed, awarded, and/or recorded by the Nashville Symphony, the National Symphony of Colombia, the American Composers Orchestra,
photo by Julia Gang
the Medellin Philharmonic, the Manhattan School of Music Composers' Orchestra, the Bogota Philharmonic, the Curtis Symphony, the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra, and the EAFIT Symphony. In 2014, the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra (OSEP Foundation) commissioned him a chamber piece for the International Winter Festival of Campos do Jordao.
James is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in composition at the University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin fellow, where he studies with Marcos Balter, and Anna Weesner. As the 2016 Banco de la República de Colombia's fellow, James earned an M.M. in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Reiko Fueting and received the Nicolas Flagello Award and the Saul Braverman Award for outstanding achievement in Composition and Music Theory. James studied composition with Moisés Bertrán, Harold Vázquez, and Gustavo Parra at the National Conservatory of Music, received his B.M in Composition, in 2015.