James Rae was born on Tyneside in 1957. He studied clarinet, bass clarinet, piano and composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1975-79. His professors were Yona Ettlinger, Stephen Trier, Meriel Jefferson and Patric Standford respectively. Since leaving the Guildhall, James Rae has pursued a highly successful and varied career in music. His work falls into three areas: performing, writing and teaching.
As a player, James Rae has worked in many West End and Royal National Theatre productions including Sir Peter Hall’s award winning Oresteia with music by Sir Harrison Birtwistle. He has also received many freelance engagements with some of the country’s leading orchestras and ensembles. Projects have included the EMI album Classic Ellington with Sir Simon Rattle and the C.B.S.O. Saxophone Quartet playing has featured strongly in James Rae’s career. He is the leader of the Phoenix Saxophone Quartet who over the years has given many recitals and broadcasts. They have also recorded the complete works of Carey Blyton on two albums The Return of Bulgy Gogo and Sherlock Holmes meets Dr Who.
As a composer, James Rae is one of Europe’s most published writers of educational wind music. He has at present over 120 publications to his credit published mainly by Universal Edition. His music includes instrumental study books, tutors, transcriptions and volumes of duets many of which are to be found on wind examination syllabuses worldwide. He has also written five musicals for schools in partnership with Mike Cornick.
As a teacher, James Rae has held many posts in both the state and independent sector and has tutored and conducted on numerous courses. He is currently saxophone professor for the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.