james w. iman
Pianist James Iman plays the usual and the unusual, by composers known and unknown. As a specialist in music written since 1900—with an emphasis on music written since 1945—his repertoire spans many stylistic developments since Debussy. He is meticulous inhis study of the scores and the aesthetic concepts behind each of the works he plays. This allows him to find fresh approaches to established canonic warhorses and to make complex contemporary works engaging and immediately clear to audiences.
Frances Wilson of The Cross-Eyed Pianist heralded James as among the few pianists who can “rise to the challenge of this music and meet it head on with conviction, musicality, and a supreme alertness to its myriad details and quirks” and as a performer he gives “a very clear sense of his total commitment to this music, and also how comfortable he feels in this repertoire.”
James is constantly looking for new and interesting works to add to his repertoire and curates his programs with an interest in diversity, contrast, and continuity. He is a vocal advocate of underrepresented composers and frequently performs music by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ composers. He has appeared on Chatham University’s Friday Afternoon Musicales concert series in which he has presented four programs of works by female composers.
James has given world premieres of works by Charlie Wilmoth, David Dies, and Everette Minchew and United States premieres of works by Gilbert Amy, Alwynne Pritchard, Raphaël Languillat, and Soe Tjen Marching. In April of 2017, James gave the World Premiere of “People,” a concert-length work he commissioned from composer Lowell Fuchs.
In 2021, James signed with Divine Art’s new music division, Métier Records, for three albums of modern and contemporary music. The first to appear, will be a reissue of his debut album, recorded in Belgium's famous Flagey Studio, featuring works by Schoenberg, Boulez, Webern and Gilbert Amy, will see release in the summer of 2022.
Boulez scholar Peter O’Hagan has said of the album that “[the] performances are characterized throughout by a passionate sense of commitment” and Andrea Bedetti of MusicVoice.com has said James’ recording of the Boulez Troisième Sonate is among the “definitive versions.”
This re-release will be followed by two albums that will include works by Alban Berg, Betsy Jolas, Morton Feldman, Klaus Huber, Claude Debussy, Donald Martino, and Jenny Beck. As with his debut release, both albums will include world premiere recordings.
In addition to his activities as a performer, James is active as a lecturer and clinician. He is a frequent guest lecturer on contemporary music at Shenandoah Conservatory, and has been a resident at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and at Grand Valley State University giving master classes for pianists and clinics with composition students.
As a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, James holds an MA in Piano Performance and a BA in Music History and Piano Performance. While at IUP, he studied piano with Judith Radell and James Staples. In 2015, James worked with Steve Drury as a fellow at New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice.
"In [his] hands, “Der Zwerg” twists and struggles into being in a way that dramatically captures the dark subject-matter of the piece. He draws out and explores the tension in the phrasing as one might test a rope (or a cord of red silk!) for strength. I love the jagged way he plays the piece."
- Alwynne Pritchard
"Few can rise to the challenge of this music and meet it head on with conviction, musicality, and a supreme alertness to its myriad details and quirks: James Iman more than achieves this. Indeed, throughout the album one has a very clear sense of his total commitment to this music, and also how comfortable he feels in this repertoire."
- Fran Wilson, crosseyedpianist.com