James Beauton – VMSO Conductor



Conductor and Percussionist James Beauton is currently the Director of Orchestra and Classical Music Studies at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco. 2023-24 marked his debut season as the Music Director and Conductor of the Winchester Orchestra of San Jose. He is also Lecturer of Percussion at San Francisco State University.

Beauton emerged on the orchestral podium in 2019, conducting a performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite with the Villa Musica Summer Orchestra in San Diego. Shortly following, he became assistant conductor of the Coachella Valley Symphony, a position that included directing the Buddy Rogers Youth Symphony. James was also director of the Mt. San Jacinto College Concert Band and founded and conducted the Villa Musica Chamber Players in San Diego.

As a concert percussionist, James was the grand prize winner of the 2012 Southern California International Marimba Competition, and performed as a member of Steven Schick’s renowned percussion ensemble, red fish blue fish, from 2015-2020. He continues to perform the most demanding music in the solo and chamber percussion repertoire, while advocating for the exploration and commissioning of new works.

Equipped with a mastery of percussion playing, a theoretical background in media theory, and a robust practical application of recording technology, James’ scholarly work includes a published dissertation that explores the symbiotic connection of classical musicians and 21st century life.

James earned his Doctorate in Contemporary Music Performance from UC San Diego, a Masters in Percussion from SUNY Stony Brook, and a Bachelors of Music from Michigan State University. James is a Yamaha Performing Artist.