Songbird is an adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole by James Lowe, Kelley Rourke and Eric Sean Fogel, with a reimagined score arranged and orchestrated in the style of 1920s New Orleans jazz.

“From the opening number, the joint started jumping, and it never stopped.”
-Susan Galbraith (DC Metro Theater Arts, Glimmerglass production)


Grammy nominated conductor, arranger, orchestrator and composer James Lowe continues to garner praise for "beautifully sculpted" (Opera News) performances. He appears regularly with major opera houses in the US and abroad, as well as on Broadway. This season he will make debuts at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, Atlanta Opera, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and will return to Lyric Opera of Chicago and Arizona Opera. He recently conducted the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis with New York City Opera at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. He arranged, orchestrated and conducted Songbird, a new adaptation of Offenbach’s La Périchole in the style of 1920’s New Orleans jazz for the Glimmerglass Festival. Songbird will also be produced this season by Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, starring Isabel Leonard and Ramin Karimloo, as well as at Milwaukee's Florentine Opera. He has also appeared at San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse and Opéra National de Bordeaux.

Mr. Lowe has had a long relationship with Houston Grand Opera, where he has led La bohéme, Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Sweeney Todd, Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair (world premiere production), as well as the HGO Studio production of Copland’s The Tender Land. At HGO he also conducted the world premiere production of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. He led Jonathan Dove’s Flight at the Pittsburgh Opera Center, as well as Mark Adamo’s Little Women at Lyric Opera Cleveland in a production directed by the composer. He conducts regularly at Utah Opera, and has appeared with the Houston Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Wolf Trap Opera, and the American Composers Orchestra, as well as The Nutcracker with the Houston Ballet.

On Broadway, James Lowe was the Music Director and Conductor of the recent revival of Les Misérables, as well as the Tony Award-winning revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster and Joel Grey. He also served as the Music Supervisor for the First National Tour of this production. Mr. Lowe made his Broadway debut conducting performances of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone.

Mr. Lowe was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work on the Anything Goes cast album released on Ghostlight Records, which he conducted and co-produced. With members of the cast he has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, the CBS Early Show and A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. He toured North America as Music Director and Conductor of the acclaimed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre production of My Fair Lady, and conducted the First National Tour of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza. He served as US Music Supervisor of the recent North American Tour of The Phantom of the Opera.

Mr. Lowe has appeared in concert with Sir Elton John, conducting his own orchestrations and choral arrangements of Elton’s classic songs, as well as with singer-songwriter Randy Newman and the legendary Booker T. Jones. His arrangements have been performed by Joyce DiDonato (Lincoln Center and Wigmore Hall), Isabel Leonard, Ailyn Pérez and Nadine Sierra (Metropolitan Opera’s “Three Divas at Versailles” concert), Glimmerglass Festival and Utah Opera, among others. His opera, Poppea, a new work based on themes of Monteverdi reimagined with electric guitars and industrial electronics will premiere at Fort Worth Opera in 2021 (postponed due to covid).

As Associate Conductor at Houston Grand Opera for several seasons he served as cover conductor, principal pianist and coach on many productions, including the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata. Mr. Lowe assisted on the world premieres of Carlisle Floyd’s Cold Sassy Tree and Tod Machover’s Resurrection, playing keyboards on the recordings of those operas. He can also be heard as keyboardist on HGO’s popular recording of Adamo’s Little Women. He has been on the music staff of New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Virginia Opera and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, and served as Resident Conductor and Chorus Master at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival. He has been the Music Director of the Butler Opera Center at the University of Texas, and he appeared onstage as the Tavern Pianist in Santa Fe Opera’s 2001 production of Wozzeck.

Mr. Lowe has played in several rock, jazz, blues and country bands. He was the keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for the rock band Backwash for five years, recording and touring the Eastern United States. He co-produced the band’s compact disc, Goin’ to the Mall, released in 1995 on Transit Records.

As a pianist, Mr. Lowe performed as soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and has given recitals, including several world premieres, at such venues as the Aspen Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institute, the University of Texas San Antonio New Music Festival, and the University of Colorado Artsweek Festival in Boulder. He taught Keyboard Literature and piano at Syracuse University, and he served on the piano and musical theater faculty at the Hochstein Music School in Rochester. He holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan, with additional studies at the Aspen Music School and the Aspen Opera Theater Center.


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