James Blachly is a Grammy Award-winning conductor dedicated to enriching the concert experience by connecting with audiences in memorable and meaningful ways. James Blachly serves as Music Director of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and of the Experiential Orchestra, and is a versatile guest conductor in diverse repertoire with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic.
With the Johnstown Symphony, he conducted the orchestra in a former steel mill in a concert that was featured on Katie Couric’s America Inside Out, and in six seasons the orchestra has increased season ticket sales and annual giving each by more than 50%. In 2021, he received a commendation by the City of Johnstown and the Johnstown chapter of the NAACP.
With the Experiential Orchestra, he has invited audiences to dance to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, sit within the orchestra at Lincoln Center, and engage with Symphonie fantastique and Petrushka with circus choreography at The Muse in Brooklyn. Their world premiere recording of English composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s 1930 masterpiece The Prison, released on Chandos Records, won a 2021 Grammy Award and was widely acclaimed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Gramophone, San Francisco Chronicle, Financial Times, The Guardian, and many others.
Blachly’s work on The Prison began in 2015. He is the editor for the new Wise Music Group critical edition that has not only made modern performances and this recording possible, but has led to a new wave of interest in Smyth’s work throughout the music world. This is the first-ever Grammy Award for music by Smyth, who lived from 1858-1944 and struggled her entire career to have her music judged on its merits rather than on the basis of her gender.
In 2022, he will held a week-long artist residency at Montclair State University featuring composer in residence Jessie Montgomery. He will teach courses on composition, conducting, choral techniques, and deliver several keynote lectures, culminating in an Experiential Orchestra-style immersive performance.
In 2016, Blachly was the only conductor from the U.S. invited to participate in the Young Conductor’s Showcase as a part of El Sistema’s 40th Anniversary celebration, and he was also the only U.S. conductor to be invited as Conducting Fellow in Maestra Marin Alsop’s final year at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. In addition to the New York Philharmonic, recent guest conducting engagements include the Williamsburg Symphony, Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic, Malaysian Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony, Portland Symphony (ME), Danbury Symphony, and Odyssey Opera (Boston), as well as performances at Trinity Church Wall Street, Roulette, National Sawdust, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center.