You are here: Home > About > Reference > Bursary holdersYou are not logged in.

Bursary Conductor 2022-2023

James Thomas
James Thomas  (click here for larger photo)

James Thomas

The Bob and Beryl Harding Bursary holder for the 2022-2023 season is James Thomas

Born in Chichester, James began his musical study at an early age, learning piano, violin and saxophone.  Encouraged by an extremely musical family, he attended Bishop Luffa School and played in the Southern Area Symphony Orchestra, winning the Music for Youth National Competition in 2006. 

James was given a music scholarship to Bedales School in 2008 where he notably conducted the Brahms Requiem at the age of 18.  He then went on to study at the University of York and subsequently under Jason Thornton at Bath Spa University, conducting the university symphony orchestra and chamber choir.  He was awarded the Jennifer Skellett Fellowship upon completion of his undergraduate studies for outstanding recital performance. 

Since then he has had tuition from Dr John Stringer and Peter Stark as well as masterclasses with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music and Cristian Brancusi of the Moldovan National Radio Orchestra. 

In 2013, James won the Critics Choice Award for his score to the film, ‘A Life Like Mine’ at the Monaco International Film Festival.

In 2016, James founded the Eroica Orchestra as an opportunity for conservatoire and university students to gain further experience playing in a professional setting and develop his conducting further.  He was also able to use the orchestra to commission new works by up and coming composers.

As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, James founded the JERT Ensemble in 2021, a small ensemble offering chamber music concerts and opportunities for players to develop and play together on the return from lockdown. 

As a musical director of opera and musical theatre, his professional productions include The Marriage of Figaro, Orpheus and the Underworld and The Liberty Tree as well as a national tour of Kenya with a production of the environmentally friendly musical, Yanamamo.

James is currently a staff conductor at the University of Chichester Conservatoire under Crispin Ward and Assistant Musical Director of the Solent Male Voice Choir.  He is also serving as Musical Director to the Arundel Players and BROS Musical Productions. 

For more information, see his website:

Website kindly hosted by