Scottish-born James Crabb is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading ambassadors of the classical accordion. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music with classical accordion pioneer Mogens Ellegaard and was awarded the Carl Nielsen Music Prize, Denmark in 1991. He was professor of classical accordion at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen from 1995 to 2010, held a long-standing guest professorship at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria and was most recently, Artistic Director of Four Winds Festival, NSW.
He has performed worldwide as soloist with the BBC Symphony, BBC Scottish, Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, London Symphony, Hallé Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Nash Ensemble, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Spatanburg Philharmonic (South Carolina) and El Paso Symphony Orchestra (Texas).
This year James performs at Sydney Festival, gives recitals at Ukaria, and at the Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields festival, as well as returning to the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Townsville. He will also make his debuts with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (Creswell’s Dragspil concerto for classical accordion) and at the Bavarian State Opera, Munich in Brett Dean’s Hamlet.
A recognised and acclaimed authority on the music of Astor Piazzolla, James has performed with the original members of Piazzolla’s own quintet. He has directed Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires both at the Royal Danish Opera and for Victorian Opera. James’ Piazzolla recordings include Song of the Angel with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and The Quintets with Richard Tognetti and the Tango Jam quintet. He is also featured in the documentary Astor Piazzolla in Portrait published by Opus Arte. Further recordings include transcriptions of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, The Singing (Beamish) with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Highlights of recent seasons include a national tour with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Richard Tognetti, performances with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a weekend of recitals at the Ukaria Cultural Centre, performances with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and at festivals including the Australian and Tasmanian Chamber Music Festivals, Oxford May Music, UK, Huntington Estate with the Goldner Quartet, and a residency at the Australian National Academy of Music. He has also appeared at the Adam Chamber Music Festival, New Zealand; performed and recorded the new Brett Dean Accordion concerto The Players, with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, performed with Dance Company Co.3 in Perth in a new work, “In Line”, given a recital at Music in the Round, Abbotsford Convent, Victoria, appeared with violinist Anthony Marwood at Ukaria, play/directed Sinfonia Cymru, Wales and appeared in Brett Dean’s Hamlet in a new production of the opera at Opera Cologne. James has also performed Piazzolla’s Aconcagua with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Ulster Orchestra; conducted and performed in Victorian Opera’s production of Maria de Buenos Aires; played Stravinsky’s Petrouchka with the Tero Saarinen Dance Company in Europe and Asia; given the world premiere of a new work by Magnar Am in Oslo and in Japan; played Gubaidulina’s 7 Words with the BBC Symphony and at the BBC Proms; toured Victoria with the Australian Chamber Orchestra; and performed with the Camerata Salzburg, Australia Ensemble, Sydney Omega Ensemble, Southern Cross Soloists, Black Arm Band, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and at the Peasmarsh Festival, England and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. With the Swedish Chamber Orchestra James and Brett Dean performed a new Accordion/Viola duo work, and in collaboration with Opera Queensland and Dance North he was music director of “Abandon”, based on the music of Handel.
Maintaining a high international profile, James has appeared as guest soloist and director of a new Piazzolla festival in Buenos Aires, performed the Birtwistle work The Last Supper with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and created a major role on stage, written especially for him, in Brett Dean’s new opera Hamlet at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, a role which he later reprised at the 2018 Adelaide Festival. He also curated the 2017 ‘UKARIA 24’ weekend of performances.
James also continues his two exciting collaborations, one with violinist Anthony Marwood and the other with recorder player Genevieve Lacey. Crabb-Lacey’s first recording together, Heard This and Thought of You, has been released on the ABC Classics label.