Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley hires new artistic director


Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley recently hired Buddy James as the 75-voice choir’s new artistic director, effective July 1, when music director Gregory Wait will retire after 30 seasons.

“Buddy James is an accomplished musician and consummate educator with all the requisite skills you need as an artistic director, and a particularly good fit for Schola because he’s all about fostering and building community,” Wait said.

As Wait prepares to pass the baton, he said he is “totally fine with the idea that time moves on, and there are people in this world who are capable and eager and willing to do the things I’ve been doing all these years.”

James is professor of music at Cal State East Bay, where he serves as chairman of the music department and director of choral and vocal studies and was founding director of the School of Arts and Media. He earned Outstanding Professor awards at two universities he taught at.

“As Schola’s artistic director, I hope I can carry on the tradition of success set by my predecessors, particularly Gregory Wait,” James said. “I hope to bring new ideas about repertoire and how to reach the community, and my enthusiasm of choral music as a vehicle to bring people together.”

James first heard about Schola after moving to the Bay Area in 2005.

“It’s known as one of the great historic groups of the area,” he said. “It’s a trailblazer in the sense that it was one of the first community choruses to take root here and put out a high-quality product. Over the years, the success of many other groups that have popped up can be attributed to Schola’s success.”

James cited Schola’s ability to perform major works with full orchestra as well as serving as a concert choir as “a range that is unique among community choruses.” He sees Schola Cantorum as a place where people can grow musically and personally.

“I look forward to welcoming new singers who want to be a part of this great tradition as we enter the next season,” he said.

As for what choral fans can look forward to under his artistic direction, James said they can expect to continue hearing performances of great masterworks, but also performances of works never heard by Schola audiences, in genres that will be “very exciting for any audience member.”

“Buddy has enough ideas for 10 seasons, including collaborations with other arts groups that Schola hasn’t done before,” said Catherine Lyman, chairwoman of Schola’s board.

James said he was “honored” to take on the new role at Schola, but he feels pressure following Wait.

“Greg is a consummate musician, conductor and voice teacher,” James said. “He’s been very generous to me with his time and his knowledge. I hope to model that behavior and energy going forward.”

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