Boston native James Orent's lifelong passion for music and aviation can be traced back to his childhood heroes: the Boston Symphony Orchestra and NASA's Mercury Seven astronauts. Since his debut at eighteen conducting Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, he has performed in fourteen countries as a conductor and violinist in music ranging from symphony, ballet and opera, to rock, film and commercial recordings. Celebrating his 29th season as a Boston Pops violinist, guest conductor and cover conductor, he continues to live his dream of performing with the BSO, flying and skydiving.
Mr. Orent has conducted the Boston Pops and Tanglewood Festival Chorus from Boston to San Francisco, on radio and television. Recent highlights include the Red Sox' 100th Anniversary Season opener at Fenway Park, Massachusetts Remembers 9/11 memorial at Boston's Hatch Shell, frequent shared concerts with esteemed colleagues Keith Lockhart and John Williams, coordinating astronaut Buzz Aldrin's 40th anniversary celebration of his Apollo 11 lunar landing, and nationally televised appearances at the Celtics' 2010 NBA Finals and two Red Sox World Series Championship celebrations. His dramatic 2003 substitution for Keith Lockhart at Chicago's Ravinia Festival made Boston Pops history. He made his Boston Pops radio debut from Symphony Hall in 1998 and national television debut in 1999 at the Ryder Cup Matches.
Conductor of the Phillips Academy Andover Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, Mr. Orent made his televised China conducting debut earlier this year, leading an international cast of musicians and dancers in the inaugural season of the newly dedicated Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Concert Hall at the personal invitation of Maestro Tan Dun. He recently made his Hartford Symphony/Talcott Mountain Music Festival debut conducting an all John Williams Tribute, and a return appearance as Guest Conductor with the New Philharmonia Orchestra. Music Director of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra, he was chosen to conduct his orchestra and the Jubilate Chorale at the gala 20th anniversary Mashpee Night at the Pops before a wildly enthusiastic crowd of 12,000. Recent tours include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Canada, New York, Washington, D.C., Savannah and Charleston. Mr. Orent and his Newton Symphony appear on Brazilian television's international concert series.
He has served as Music Director for the Mass 9/11 Fund, Newton Symphony Orchestra, Moises Carrasco Celebration of Life Orchestra, Scottish Rite Masons' Millennium 2000 Orchestra, Erie Ballet, Holyoke Orchestra and Amherst Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Principal Conductor of The Boston Conservatory's Repertory Orchestra, where he won the Music Division's Outstanding Faculty award. Former Assistant Concertmaster of the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra, he has conducted the Fort Worth, Spokane, Springfield (MA), New Hampshire, Indian Hill, Lexington and Melrose Symphonies, and the Handel and Haydn Society, Hartford Ballet, Pro Arte Chamber, Boston Conservatory and Ballet, and Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras.
Mr. Orent won his Buffalo Philharmonic conducting audition by unanimous decision on the semifinal round, earning the first NEA/Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund/Affiliate Artists residency with the Erie Philharmonic. Flying and skydiving are lifelong interests. Keith Lockhart drew upon Mr. 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 the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, US Parachute Association's Advanced Skydiver License, earned the Bob Buquor Memorial Star Crest Recipient 8-way award from 14,000 feet over New England, and is a member of "POPS," the "Parachutists Over Phorty Society." He flies his 1977 Cessna Cardinal RG aircraft to engagements across the eastern US. Mr. Orent has lectured to musicians, pilots, skydivers and public speakers on Performance Anxiety/ Performance Enhancement through his Fearless Living Seminars.Born in Boston, James M. Orent graduated Magna Cum Laude from Amherst College, winning the Sundquist Prize for Performance and Composition. He studied conducting with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School, Otto Werner Mueller at the Yale School of Music, and at Tanglewood. His violin teachers were Phillipp Naegele (Marlboro Music) and Stanley Benson of the BSO. Mr. Orent's 1790 Helmer (Czech) violin belonged to Arthur Fiedler's father, Emmanuel.