“Mr. Blachly’s interpretation had a subtle elasticity that stopped short of distortion. Coping with the resonant acoustics, he effectively balanced a small body of strings with the zealous brasses and percussion.” -Steve Smith, New York Times
“This splendidly crafted work is a tour de force…this is the work of a composer with a distinctive voice and sensibility.” -Lawrence Budmen, Miami Herald Tribune
James says “I want the audience to be involved. I want this music to speak directly to them.” With smaller audiences, he creates interactive audience experiences; with larger audiences in significant concert halls, James uses his natural capacity to communicate to bring the audience into the heart of the music.
James Blachly is a conductor dedicated to audience engagement, community outreach, and imaginative programming. Recently named the 12th Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Blachly also serves as Music Director of the Experiential Orchestra, Music Director of Geneva Light Opera, and co-Artistic Director of The Dream Unfinished, a social justice orchestra in New York City. Steve Smith, writing for the New York Times, praised his performance of Mahler 4, saying, “Mr. Blachly’s interpretation had a subtle elasticity” and his “thoughtful conception was admirable.”
His innovative programming has invited audiences to dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, join with the orchestra in “Loft Parties” in New York City, and engage with Symphonie fantastique and Petrouchka with circus choreography in an ongoing collaboration with The Muse in Brooklyn. Dedicated to finding new ways of empowering audiences, Blachly is also in demand as a speaker on Listening as Leadership, bringing his expertise as a conductor and passion for music to corporations, schools, and other organizations.
Recent engagements include the Spokane Symphony, Odyssey Opera (Boston), Trinity Church Wall Street (New York City), Seraphic Fire (Miami), and performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In 2016 he was the only American to be invited as Conducting Fellow in Maestra Marin Alsop's final year at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music.
As the Zander Fellow and Assistant Conductor for the Boston Philharmonic, Blachly founded the Young Composers Initiative, created Boston Philharmonic New Directions in order to initiate a dynamic concert series for the Millenial generation. While in Boston, he also served as assistant conductor for Gil Rose, one of the preeminent conductors of contemporary music in the US, and as session conductor for Parma Records, specializing in the work of contemporary composers.
Mr. Blachly is a conductor with a purpose, and has developed a reputation for producing and performing benefit concerts over the past six years. In 2014, he conducted a large-scale benefit concert for six El Sistema-inspired programs in New York City hosted by Jamie Bernstein, joining with concertmaster Krista Bennion Feeney of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s to perform Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.
Dedicated to music education, he is the co-founder of Make Music NOLA, an El Sistema-Inspired program in New Orleans, and was the only American invited to participate in the 1st Annual Young Conductor’s Showcase as a part of El Sistema’s 40th Anniversary celebration. He regularly conducts workshops for the New York Philharmonic, and served as Ensemble Director for the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program.
In his previous career as a composer, he studied at Mannes with Robert Cuckson, as well as privately with Charles Wuorinen and John Corigliano. His compositions have been celebrated as “vigorous and assured” by Chamber Music America, and a “splendidly crafted…tour de force” by the Miami Herald Tribune, and have been performed at The Stone, Zankel Hall, in Europe and across the US, in an audience for the Pope, and broadcast live on the CBC.
James Blachly is represented worldwide by William Reinert Associates. Inquiries should be made to