Recently described by local media as a ‘South Africa’s classical guitar maestro’, James Grace is one the country’s leading concert artists, having appeared with all the major South African orchestras and at every arts festival. James’s concert schedule frequently takes him throughout Southern Africa, Europe and the U.A.E.
Born in England in 1978, James immigrated with his family to South Africa at the age of ten. Beginning guitar lessons in his seventh year, James continued his studies with the late Dietrich Wagner, professor of guitar at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape.
Subsequently James studied at the Royal College of Music in London as a Foundation Scholar with Carlos Bonell. Upon graduating he became the first guitarist in the history of the College to receive the Tagore Gold Medal, an annual award presented to the most outstanding student.
After spending two years in Doha, in the Arabian State of Qatar where he taught guitar at an International Music Centre, James returned to South Africa and was appointed Head of Classical Guitar Studies at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music.
A career highlight was the South African premier performance of Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal for two guitars with Jonathan Crossley and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alessandro Crudele in 2012.
More recently James performed Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and visiting Dutch conductor Arjan Tien to over 6000 people at the Kirstenbosch 2017 Summer Concert Series, where ‘Grace’s fingers danced… as if possessed by a demon’ (Rudolph Mare, whatsonincapetown.com).
As an entrepreneur and concert promoter, James often hosts and collaborates with visiting artists, most recently having organized and performed a nationwide tour with Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanksi in 2018. The duo performed throughout Mexico in 2019 and their album Unydos is about to be released.
James’s 2017 album, Chilled, produced under the banner of his independently owned and operated record label, Stringwise Records, received a South African Music Award nomination (SAMA). Two of his previous CDs Sevilla – Music of Spain II and Café Latino both topped the Classic FM Top 20 South African Charts and earned James SAMA nominations for Best Popular Classical Album and Best Instrumental Album respectively.
James’s seventh solo studio album Andaluza – Music of Spain III won the SAMA for Best Classical Album 2019.