James Smith conducted the University Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra while continuing in his position as Music Director of the University Opera. Mr. Smith began his career as a clarinetist. After graduation from Southern Methodist University, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study clarinet in London, England, and subsequently received a graduate degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music. He has performed with the Empire Sinfonietta in New York City, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and the Miami Philharmonic. While in New York, he appeared as soloist with the Empire Sinfonietta performing Aaron Copland’s Clarinet Concerto at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with Aaron Copland conducting.
An interest in conducting began while teaching at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he co-founded a faculty-student chamber orchestra, the Fredonia Chamber Players, and began appearing as a conductor with the university’s bands and orchestra. From New York, he moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to conduct the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band. Two years later, Mr. Smith was invited by the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras to become their Music Director. Guest conducting and the rare sighting as a clarinetist compete for Smith’s free time, time which is better spent cooking, reading, and biking.