"It took all of about two bars to be utterly entranced." The Herald
Heralded for performances of “spectacular musicianship and technical brilliance” (The Scotsman), “evangelizing urgency” (International Record Review) and “freshness and lucidity” (The Herald), James Willshire performs internationally as soloist and chamber musician. He appears regularly at the major UK concert halls, including the Bridgewater Hall, Barbican, Glasgow City Halls, and Royal Festival Hall, and has broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. James’s recordings of contemporary British piano music have been reviewed extensively, receiving universal acclaim.
Festival appearances include performances given by James at the 2015 The Piano Festival at Glasgow Royal Concert Halls, the Lichfield, Cheltenham and Winchester Festivals, the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival, the Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Cantilena Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Roman River Festival, ‘Il Festival di Londra’, the Victoria International Arts Festival and the Paxos International Festival.
A regular performer of contemporary music, James has given world premiere performances of works by Ronald Stevenson, John McLeod, Rory Boyle, Nicola LeFanu, Robin Holloway, Errollyn Wallen, Thomas Simaku and Jay Capperauld. James’s debut recording on Delphian Records featured the complete piano music by Boyle; it was released in 2011 to critical acclaim, including a five-star review from The Scotsman. In October 2013 his recording of piano music by Ronald Stevenson was released. The CD was reviewed by BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, received a five-star review in Classical Music magazine, and was awarded an IRR Outstanding by International Record Review. Other press interest for the recording included articles in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Scotsman, Sinfini Music, The Arts Desk and MusicWeb International. His recording of piano music by David Jennings was chosen as one of MusicWeb International’s Recordings of the Year 2013.
Past concerts include the Debussy 2018 project, where James performed the complete solo piano music by Debussy throughout the year. These concerts, described as “an unmissable opportunity to hear these demanding pieces live” by The Herald, included complete cycles in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and individual concerts in the Leeds International Concert Season and at Chetham’s School of Music. Also in 2018 James performed concerts dedicated to the music of Henry Litolff, with performances in London, Edinburgh and Cheltenham, and gave the premiere of Jay Capperauld’s piano concerto Endlings with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland.
James maintains a strong interest in music education and combines his role as piano teacher at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with similar posts at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and St Mary’s Music School.