James Blachly is a conductor dedicated to artistic excellence and broader accessibility. He currently serves as Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Experiential Orchestra, and Music Director of Geneva Light Opera. Dedicated to finding new ways of empowering audiences, he is also in demand as a speaker on Listening as Leadership, bringing his expertise as a conductor and passion for music to Fortune 500 companies, schools, and other organizations.
Mr. Blachly’s innovative programming aims to increase audience engagement and empower audiences. With the Johnstown Symphony, he conducted the orchestra in a former steel mill in a concert that was featured on Katie Couric’s America Inside Out, and in three seasons the orchestras has increased season ticket sales by 43%; with the Experiential Orchestra, he has invited audiences to dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, sit within the orchestra at Lincoln Center, and engage with Symphonie fantastique and Petrouchka with circus choreography in an ongoing collaboration with The Muse in Brooklyn.
A strong supporter of composers of our time, Mr. Blachly has commissioned and premiered more than 40 works from composers such as Jessie Montgomery, Courtney Bryan, Kate Copeland Ettinger, Patrick Castillo, Viet Cuong, Brad and Doug Balliett, and many others. In recent seasons, he has collaborated with soloists Julia Bullock, Andrés Cárdenes, Michael Chioldi, Karen Kim, Andrew Yee, Owen Dalby, Janna Baty, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and more.
He was the only conductor from the U.S. invited to participate in the 1st Annual Young Conductor’s Showcase as a part of El Sistema’s 40th Anniversary celebration, and he was also the only U.S. conductor to be invited as Conducting Fellow in Maestra Marin Alsop's final year at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Recent guest conducting engagements include Spokane Symphony, Danbury Symphony, Odyssey Opera (Boston), Trinity Church Wall Street (New York City), and performances at Roulette, National Sawdust, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
In order to encourage an expanded orchestral repertoire, with harpist and musicologist Ashley Jackson he is a founding partner for the OMBC Foundation, a comprehensive online and engraving resource for the orchestral music of black composers, and he is proud to be named as editor for the Schirmer/MusicSales edition of Dame Ethel Smyth’s career-culminating masterpiece, The Prison, which he will record in 2019 with the Experiential Orchestra.
Dedicated to music education, he regularly conducts workshops and clinics for the New York Philharmonic, and served as Ensemble Director for the Baltimore Symphony’s OrchKids program. From 2010 to 2015, he performed benefit concerts of Mahler symphonies with New York freelancers to launch what is now Make Music NOLA, a thriving El Sistema-Inspired program in New Orleans.
He studied with Donald Schleicher and trained with Larry Rachleff, and served for two years as the Zander Fellow for the Boston Philharmonic.
Also active as a composer, he studied at Mannes with Robert Cuckson and 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: