San Diego State University Logo
School of Music and Dance logo

Toni James

Assistant Professor of Music, Piano

Toni James

MM Eastman School of Music
BM Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Considered among the finest Scottish pianists of her generation, Ms. James’ performances earned top honours at the Royal Conservatoire’s Mozart Memorial Concerto competition, Governor’s Recital Prize and Bach Prize for Piano competitions. A soloist of national and international acclaim, Ms. James was a finalist in the televised BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition winning the Regional Final Prize for Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as receiving the Gold Medal at the Moray Piano Festival Competition and American Protégé International Competition in New York City. Ms. James also received 3rd Prize in the Scottish International Piano Academy Competition and special honours from the jury as Semi Finalist in the International Emmanuel Durlet Prize for Piano, Antwerp Belgium, as the youngest competitor in the competition.

As a chamber musician Ms. James performs as pianist in the Neave Trio, with critically acclaimed violinist Anna Williams and cellist Mikhail Veselov, recently selected as the only piano trio to showcase at Chamber Music America’s 37th Annual Conference in NYC. The Boston Musical Intelligencer’s review of Neave’s Rockport Festival debut, hailed the trio as among the finest of their generation, writing “it is inconceivable that they will not soon be among the busiest chamber ensembles going” (Steven Ledbetter: Brightness and Radiance at Rockport). The Neave Trio’s debut CD was MusicWeb International’s Recording of the Month, as well as Fanfare Magazine’s “Want List” CD and the trio were recently signed to Chandos and will release a CD of American piano trios next year. Upcoming debuts include the Harvard Musical Association and Norton Building Series in Chicago, where the trio will give the world premiere of a newly commissioned work for trio by preeminent American composer Augusta Read Thomas.

Ms. James is the youngest Scottish pianist to receive a Bachelor of Music Performance with First Class Honours from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, aged just twenty. Ms. James also holds a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, where she has recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in Performance and Literature.

While at Eastman, Ms. James received the School’s highest honours in both performance and teaching. She received the 2012 Max Landow Scholarship, awarded annually by the faculty to a doctoral pianist for distinction in performance and the 2010 Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Ms. James developed a reputation for outstanding teaching as one of only a few students selected for Eastman’s Certificate in College and Community Teaching Program.

Ms. James began undergraduate studies at age sixteen with Philip Jenkins at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating with the prestigious Performer’s Certificate Program Diploma. Ms. James went on to receive a scholarship to the Master of Music program at the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Barry Snyder and while in the doctoral program, received the Baskin Scholarship Award for outstanding doctoral degree recital. She has also won prestigious scholarships from organisations in her own country including the Caird Travelling Scholarship, Cross Trust, Hope Scott Trust and Friends of Scotland scholarships. Ms. James was also awarded the Young Scot of the Year Award for her Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, in 2012.

Ms. James’ success has seen her perform all over the world in recital and festival performances in the UK, United States and Europe, notably performing in recital at the British Embassy in Oslo, Norway, with American violinist Rachel Barton Pine and in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall and Rochester’s Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Ms. James is frequently invited to give masterclasses at universities and piano schools across the country and has worked with numerous renowned pianists, Steven Kovacevich, Andre Watts, Malcolm Bilson, Andre Michel Schub, Peter Serkin, Anne-Marie McDermott, Joseph Kalichstein, Menahem Pressler, Andreas Haefliger, Ronan O’Hora and Kristian Bezuidenhout.