James Cavanagh was born in Dublin and began his career as a trumpet player. He was a member of the No.1 Army band before becoming a trumpet player with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. He was Head of Wind Brass and Percussion at the Royal Irish Academy of Music for nine years, where he is also Professor of Trumpet, lectures in conducting and conducts the RIAM Symphony and Intermediate Orchestras.
James has extensive conducting experience having conducted the National Symphony Orchestra, the R.T.E. Concert Orchestra, The Irish Chamber Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra and most other Orchestras in Ireland. He was Musical Director of the Tallaght Choral Society for ten years. He has worked in many other countries, notably Japan, when he conducted The Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra and The Tokyo Oratorio Society. He also conducted The Czechoslovakian Chamber Orchestra in September 2002 when he recorded a C.D. He has toured America on several occasions, where he conducted some of Americas finest Orchestras in halls including Carnegie Hall in New York and Chastain Park in Atlanta with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
He has regularly worked and conducted on RTE Radio, Lyric FM and Television and has acted as Musical Director to many Radio shows and musical productions. He has directed several successful “Meet The Orchestra” workshops at the Ark Cultural Centre for Children and has presented “Introduction to the Orchestra” and “Family concerts” at the National Concert Hall as part of their outreach programme. He has also given lectures on the Orchestra and Classical Music in schools across Ireland and is constant demand as an adjudicator, conductor and examiner. He was Musical Director of the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble, which he founded, from 1985 to 2007. In October 2001 he devised and presented the Education Programme for the R.T.E. National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland in Tralee. He followed this by devising an education and outreach programme as part of the NSO residency in Donegal in September 2003,West Cork in October 2004, Galway/Mayo in 2005, Portlaoise in 2006 Clare in 2007 and again in Donegal in October 2008.
As a conductor he has also worked with some of the finest Irish and international soloists, including John O Conor, Finghin Collins, Michael D’Arcy, Anthony Kearns, Virginia Kerr, Michael Collins, John Wallace, Evelynn Glennie and William Dowdall. James has recorded many CDs, notably The Creation by Haydn, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat with The Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also recorded a Compact Disc of original compositions for Wind Ensemble by Irish composers with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble. Most recently he has directed Outreach projects for the Festival of Great Irish Houses. He traveled to Spain to participate in an international Festival of Youth Orchestras with the RIAM Intermediate Orchestra, Directed a Family Concert at the National Concert Hall in partnership with the NCH “Learn and Explore” department and toured with the specially formed “Young Irish Strings” in southern Japan in July 2008. In January 2009 he traveled to America with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra and Pianist John O’ Conor when they performed in The Washington Conservatory of Music and Carnegie Hall. In October 2010 he conducted the RIAM Chamber Orchestra in a highly successful tour to Shanghai in China.
Current projects include the Annual Gala Orchestra Concert with the RIAM Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday 22nd March when the orchestra will perform Romeo and Juliet Suite No.2 and Piano Concerto no.3 with Fiachra Garvey as soloist. He is a Patron of St. Agnes’ School Orchestra and a trustee of the Richardson-Smith Musical Trust. In June 2010 he was awarded a Fellowship (FRIAM) at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.