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James Orent

Orchestral Repertoire Faculty

Boston native James M. Orent’s lifelong passion for music and aviation can be traced back to his childhood heroes: the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) and NASA’s Mercury Seven astronauts. Since his debut at the age of 18 conducting Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, he has performed in 13 countries as a conductor and violinist in music ranging from symphony, ballet and opera, to rock, film and commercial recordings. He has served with the BSO’s Boston Pops for 23 seasons as a violinist, guest conductor and cover conductor, where he recently had the honor of working with Buzz Aldrin during the astronaut’s appearance with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops in a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11. The 2010-2011 holiday season marked Orent’s 60th appearance as Boston Pops guest conductor. Recent and upcoming highlights include sharing the podium with John Williams for a live broadcast Boston Pops concert, the Phillips Academy Cantata Tour of the Czech Republic and Hungary and an upcoming Cantata Tour of Canada.

Orent and his Newton Symphony Orchestra currently appear on Brazilian television’s series of live recorded concerts. Since 2008, he has served as music director for the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund’s solemn commemorations at the Statehouse, and in April 2008 he conducted members of the Boston Pops at Fenway Park’s telecast Opening Day Ceremonies. Orent recently assumed music director posts with the Newton and Brockton symphonies and the Phillips (Andover) Academy symphony and chamber orchestras. In 2003, Orent made Boston Pops history with his dramatic substitution for Keith Lockhart at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. He made his local radio debut in 1998 and his national television debut in 1999 at the Ryder Cup Matches. Principal Conductor of The Boston Conservatory Repertory Orchestra, he has conducted the Fort Worth, Spokane, Springfield (Massachusetts), New Hampshire, Indian Hill, Lexington and Melrose symphonies, as well as the Handel and Haydn Society, Hartford Ballet, Pro Arte Chamber, The Boston Conservatory and Ballet and Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Orent lectures on performance anxiety and performance enhancement through his Fearless Living seminars. He collaborated on ARCADD Architectural Firm’s entry into the 2003 International Design Competition for the Stavanger (Norway) Theatre/Concert Hall and led the Scottish Rite Masons’ Millennium 2000 national videocast. He was former assistant concertmaster of the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO) Orchestra, he has been music director of the Erie Ballet, Holyoke Orchestra and Amherst Contemporary Music Ensemble. Orent won his Buffalo Philharmonic conducting audition by unanimous decision on the semifinal round, earning the first National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)/Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund/Affiliate Artists residency with the Erie Philharmonic.

For Orent, flying and skydiving are lifelong interests. Keith Lockhart drew upon Orent’s airline and barnstorming experience to fly Celtic musicians from New York to his home in Northern Maine directly through Hurricane Fran. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate and a US Parachute Association’s Advanced Skydiver License, and he is a member of POPS (Parachutists Over Phorty Society). He flies his 1977 Cessna Cardinal RG aircraft to engagements across the Eastern states. 

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