James Hewitt is active in both early and contemporary music, and becoming well known for his engaging personal style and improvisatory prowess.
He performs throughout Europe, both solo and in ensembles including Contrasto Armonico, Concerto Valiante, the Yiddish Baroque project Simkhat Hanefesh, Pera Ensemble (baroque and Turkish instruments), and the Scroll Ensemble, which specialises in programmes inspired by improvisatory practices of the baroque, and was finalist in York International Early Music Competition 2015. He has participated in several recordings with Contrasto Armonico, associated with an extended project to record all of Handel’s Italian Cantatas, and has broadcast on Dutch Radio 4. He has given improvisation workshops at Yiddish Summer Weimar, and at the conservatoires of Bydgoszcz and Katowice in Poland.
He also works with Brendan Faegre Edge Ensemble (contemporary music ensemble exploring the boundaries between styles and between composition and improvisation), Royal Improviser’s Orchestra, and the DaMu Collective (music/dance improvisation), as well as in theatre projects, such as the Klingon Opera U, in which he plays a newly made instrument, tin dach. On this instrument, similar to a rebab, he also performs modal improvisation and Gregorian chant.
His compositions include works for Cambridge University Opera Society (Moses and Pharaoh), Ely Cathedral Choir, the Nieuw Ensemble, Modello Ensemble, and the Fokker Organ in Amsterdam Muziekgebauw aan’t IJ. He has received performances at the Cheltenham Festival, Nordic Early Keyboard Festival, Royal Institution of Great Britain, and during the Gaudeamus Interpreter’s Competition in Amsterdam. His works will increasingly become available from Parklaan Publications on Tutti Music.
He read music at Girton College, Cambridge, and continued his studies at the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague: baroque violin with Pavlo Beznosiuk, and composition with Martijn Padding, Cornelis de Bondt and Guus Janssen. He completed his masters there with research in improvised counterpoint