Director, Choral Studies
James K. Bass, three-time GRAMMY®-nominated singer and conductor, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Music, and Director of Choral Studies at The Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. He is the Associate Conductor and Director of Education for the Miami-based ensemble Seraphic Fire and is the Artistic Director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers.
Bass is an active soloist and ensemble artist. In 2017 he made his Cleveland Orchestra solo debut singing with Franz Welser-Möst and the orchestra in Miami and in Severance Hall, Cleveland. Other engagements as a soloist include the New World Symphony with Michael Tilson-Thomas, The Florida Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Back Bay Chorale and Orchestra, Firebird Chamber Orchestra, and The Sebastians. He has appeared with numerous professional vocal ensembles including Seraphic Fire, Conspirare, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Apollo Master Chorale, Vox Humanae, True Concord, and Spire. He was the featured baritone soloist on the GRAMMY-nominated recording Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings with fellow singer Lauren Snouffer, conductor Craig Hella-Johnson, and the GRAMMY-winning ensemble Conpirare. He is one of 13 singers on the GRAMMY®-nominated disc A Seraphic Fire Christmas and appears on CD recordings on the Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, Albany, and Seraphic Fire Media labels.
Bass was selected by the master conductor of the Amsterdam Baroque Soloists, Ton Koopman, to be one of only 20 singers for a presentation of Cantatas by J. S. Bach in Carnegie Hall and was an auditioned member of Robert Shaw’s workshop choir at Carnegie. He has appeared as conductor with the Florida Orchestra during their annual education concerts.
During his tenure as Artistic Director for the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the official chorus of the Florida Orchestra, he was responsible for five recordings and multiple world premieres. In 2012 he served as chorusmaster and co-editor for the Naxos recording entitled Delius: Sea Drift and Appalachia featuring the Florida Orchestra and conducted by Stefan Sanderling. In 2014 he was the principal preparer for the recording Holiday Pops Live! conducted by the principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik. During his tenure as a chorusmaster, he has prepared choirs for Sir Colin Davis, Sir David Willcocks, Jahja Ling, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Gerard Schwarz, Giancarlo Guerrero, Michael Francis, Marcelo Lehninger, Stefan Sanderling, Evan Rogister, Danail Rachlev, Joshua Weilerstein, Markus Huber, David Lockington, Xian Zhang, Patrick Quigley, and Neal Stulberg.
His professional career has coincided with the development of Seraphic Fire as one of the premier vocal ensembles in the United States. He has been actively involved as soloist, ensemble artist, editor, producer, and preparer for 14 of the ensemble’s recordings and routinely conducts the ensemble in Miami and on tour. During the summer of 2011, he co-founded the Professional Choral Institute. In its inaugural year of recording, Seraphic Fire and PCI received the GRAMMY® nomination for Best Choral Performance for their recording of Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deuthches Requiem. As the Director of Education for the ensemble, he has been involved with annual events that service more than 2000 students in the Miami-Dade county area each year. In 2017 Seraphic Fire and UCLA launched a new educational initiative entitled the Ensemble Artist Program that aims to identify and train the next generation of high-level ensemble singers.
Bass received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami, where he was a doctoral fellow, and is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy.