Having begun his undergraduate studies as a pianist at Trinity College of Music, James transferred to the vocal department in his second year, while remaining under Eugene Asti for vocal accompaniment and Andrew Morley for orchestral conducting. During this period, he conducted a rare performance of Mozart's first opera, Apollo et Hyacinthus, at Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, leading from the harpsichord. James completed his Master of Arts at the Royal Academy of Music, where he regularly played for lessons and classes.
Now in demand as a vocal coach and répétiteur, James is equally well-versed in opera as in the realms of art song and oratorio. He has worked as a rehearsal pianist for various UK opera companies, including Wexford Festival Opera, Dulwich Opera Company, Arcadian Opera and Opera Seria.
From 2016-18, James served as the Musical Director for Brent Opera, London, in their productions of Macbeth, Martha and Nabucco, while more recently acting as the primary musical consultant and vocal coach for Düsseldorf Lyric Opera's La bohème. He also led the musical preparation for East London Opera Company's performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Le nozze di Figaro.
A resident accompanist for nine years at Junior Trinity, he was also a tutor and house pianist at the AIMS International Music School. During his time in London, he conducted various vocal groups, and from 2010-11, he was the Assistant Director of Music at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel in Greenwich.
In 2014, James was invited to join the ABRSM examiner panel - the youngest appointment in the history of the institution - with work taking him to a number of countries throughout Europe and the Far East.