About this Artist
Through his boundless approach to music making, his collaborations with a vast array of artists from many different walks of musical life, his innovative programming and captivating musicianship of the highest order, James McVinnie has carved out a unique career as an organist and keyboard player.
Steeped in the traditions of Anglican church music (having held organ playing positions at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey) he has since had major concerto and solo works written for him by Nico Muhly, Gabriella Smith, Tristan Perich, Tom Jenkinson/Squarepusher, artist Martin Creed, David Chalmin, David Lang, Richard Reed Parry, Bryce Dessner, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Darkstar, amongst many others. Alongside his work in contemporary music, McVinnie’s lifeblood musical focus is the organ and keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
He directs the James McVinnie Ensemble, a collective of virtuoso keyboardists dedicated to exploring work often preoccupied with political themes by contemporary and emerging composers. The ensemble’s roots go back to 2017 with a performance at London’s Barbican Centre of Music in Twelve Parts by Philip Glass—the only performance in the piece’s history given by anyone other than the Philip Glass Ensemble. 2022 season featured performances of Julius Eastman Gay Guerrilla & Claude McKay’s 1922 collection of poetry Harlem Shadows in a collaboration with the London Review of Books at London’s Bold Tendencies. New works by Gabriella Smith & inti figgis-vizueta are planned for the Ensemble in 2024 and beyond.
Recent premieres include Infinity Gradient, an hour long work written for McVinnie by Tristan Perich for organ and 100 speakers in 1bit audio, Breathing Forests a new organ concerto about the complex relationship between humans, forests, climate change, and fire by Gabriella Smith for McVinnie and Los Angeles Philharmonic/Esa Pekka Salonen, and a new work by Ellen Reid as part of SOUNDWALK, a 3 year, GPS-enabled work of public art in London’s Regent’s Park that uses music to illuminate the natural environment. Shadow Volumes, for solo organ & electronics by Edmund Finnis is planned for 2024 season.
He is a member of Icelandic collective and record label Bedroom Community, on which he has released three albums: Cycles (2013, works by Nico Muhly), Cycles_1 (2016, a remix album) & Counterpoint (2021) which pairs music of J S Bach & Philip Glass. The Grid (2018) is a studio album of music by Philip Glass using organ samples on Orange Mountain Music. All Night Chroma featuring music by Tom Jenkinson/Squarepusher, recorded at the organ of the Royal Festival Hall in London was released on Warp Records in 2019.