James Cavanagh was born in Dublin and began his career as a trumpet player. He was Head of Wind Brass and Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music where he is now Professor of Trumpet, lectures in conducting and conducts the RIAM Symphony and Intermediate Orchestras.
James has extensive conducting experience having conducted all of Ireland’s professional orchestras. From October 2001 to October 2008 he devised, presented and conducted the Education Programme for the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. He has regularly worked on radio and television and has acted as Musical Director to many RTÉ Radio productions and has directed several successful ‘Meet the Orchestra’ workshops, ‘Introduction to the Orchestra’ and family concerts at the National Concert Hall. James co-founded the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble in 1985 and was its Musical Director until 2007.
He has conducted and worked all over the World, notably Japan, when he conducted The Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra and The Tokyo Oratorio Society. He has also conducted The Czechoslovakian Chamber Orchestra and has toured America on several occasions when he worked with some of America’s finest Orchestras in venues including Carnegie Hall and Chastain Park in Atlanta with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded many CDs, including The Creation by Haydn, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Magnificat with The Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also recorded original compositions by Irish composers with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble.
In 2012 James conducted the RIAM Symphony Orchestra in a hugely praised performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2. ‘Resurrection’ and in May that year he directed The RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in the finals of The Dublin International Piano Competition. Most recently he conducted a highly acclaimed performance of War Requiem by Benjamin Britten in St Patricks Cathedral, Dublin.
In June 2010 James was awarded a Fellowship (FRIAM) at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.