James graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2009, with First-Class honours and the Fourth-Year Piano Prize. Whilst studying with Mark Racz and Malcolm Wilson, he won the Conservatoire Lieder Prize, and established a firm interest in accompaniment, for which he was highly commended.
During his time at the conservatoire, James was pianist for the Thallein Ensemble, performing contemporary works under conductors Lionel Friend and Nicholas Cleobury, the accompanist for the Chorus, and student accompanist for the vocal department, leading to accompanying rehearsals for the Conservatoire's production of The Magic Flute, conducted by Steven Barlow.
While studying he was also orchestral pianist, harpsichordist and celeste player for the CBSO Youth Orchestra, performing regularly in Birmingham's Symphony Hall and Town Hall with conductor's including Sakari Oramo, Michael Seal and Andris Nelsons. In addition, James has played in masterclasses for pianists Andrew Ball, Jacob Leuschner and Daniel Höxter, and has had lessons with Peter Donohoe.
James now works for the CBSO as an accompanist and répétiteur for the Youth Chorus, Children's Chorus, SO Vocal, and regularly works with the Adult Chorus. As well as this he continues to play orchestrally with the CBSO. Other recent work has included performing with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, accompanying at Sherborne Summer School of Music (formerly Canford), working as ensemble vocal coach and pianist at the Oxford School of Drama, and accompanying rehearsals at Welsh National Opera.