Benjamin James read Music at the University of Leeds and the ArtEZ Conservatoire in the Netherlands. He was awarded a 1st Class (BMus) Honours degree in 2013.
In 2013, Benjamin was awarded the Orion Orchestra Conducting Prize, courtesy of the Richard Carne Trust, and the job as the orchestra’s assistant conductor. In this role Benjamin assisted Edward Gardner in a Charity Gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall, coached Sue Perkins for a children’s concert at Cadogan Hall as well as assisting the orchestra’s principal conductor, Toby Purser, on numerous projects.
Benjamin is currently mentored by Toby Purser. He has taken part in masterclasses with Mark Stringer (University of Vienna), Mark Heron (RNCM), Bjørn Sagstad (Norway) and Cynthia Johnston Turner (Canada). During his ERASMUS year in the Netherlands, Benjamin studied extensively with Fried Dobbelstein on symphonic works by Strauss and Stravinsky. In the summer of 2012 and 2013 Benjamin was selected to study on a one-week intensive conducting course as part of the Aberystwyth International Music Festival.
His previous conducting engagements have been with the ensembles of Leeds University Union Music Society: in his second year he conducted the Symphonic Wind Orchestra, performing with them some of the major wind orchestra repertoire by composers including Grainger, Wolfenden, Hess, and Ticheli. From his experience conducting University wind ensembles he was invited to publish an article in Winds Magazine. In 2012 Benjamin was assistant conductor for the University of Leeds School of Music Philharmonia film music project, under the direction of Dr Ian Sapiro.
In his final year he conducted the societies flagship Symphony Orchestra, performing works by Mussorgsky, Ravel, Brahms and Shostakovich. With this orchestra Benjamin organised and conducted a concert of American classics made famous by the Rat Pack, collaborating with the university big band and choir. The concert was to raise funds for Yorkshire based charity Lost Chord and was awarded a ‘Riley Award’ from Leeds University Union. The orchestra received standing ovations for concerts during their tour to Berlin and their annual gala concert held in Leeds Town Hall.