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4th Week HT24 Newsletter - James Norton

Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. This week, we sat down with organist, pianist and the new conductor of OUSinf James Norton to ask him about his new role!

James Norton

OUSinf Conductor, Organist and Pianist

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello everyone! My name is James Norton, I’m a second-year music student at Hertford. I’m a pianist, conductor, singer and organist. I also play the clarinet. I’m the term time Director of Music at St Frideswide’s Church, I sing in Trinity College Chapel Choir and I’m the current president of Hertford College Music Society. I’m extremely excited to be the new OUSinf conductor from next term!

What are you currently working on?

I’m learning lots of piano rep at the moment: some pieces by Beach for a double bassist, one half of the piano duet version of Emilie Mayer’s 4th Symphony Mvt 1, as well as continued work on a Poulenc trio with two third years. Other than this I’m working with a clarinettist for a recital series of English rep, accompanying an oboe third year and learning Time Out of Time by Rhian Samuel for a cellist.

I’m also working on Emilie Mayer’s 1st Symphony with Hertford College Orchestra. I’m extremely excited to be doing this, since it isn’t repertoire that is often performed live.

Other things include learning the organ parts for the upcoming OUChorus concert, preparing for a cathedral visit and arranging a chamber music piece for third years.

In general, I spend a lot of time researching lesser known/forgotten composers or pieces and aim to have their music performed. I devote a lot of time to score study.

What has been your favourite musical experience at Oxford so far?

I sat in on a rehearsal last week and a cat walked in. This was a pretty epic moment. Other than this, I wrote a new grace music setting last week for Trinity College Choir to sing before formal (wasn’t a fan of the old one) and they really liked it, which made my day.

I also found out that if a pencil falls on a Steinway keyboard lid while open and you then close it, the pencil zooms under the sound board. We did the right thing and told the porters, but if there’s still a Steinway somewhere in Oxford that doesn’t quite close properly you never heard anything from me...

Where do you envision yourself heading in the future?

I’m a fierce advocate for non-auditioned ensembles alongside traditionally auditioned ones. In other words, wherever I end up I hope to be working with a mixture of professionals, people who just want to have fun, and everyone in-between (not that I’m saying professionals can’t have fun).

Could you provide us with a music recommendation?

Emilie Mayer’s 7th Symphony!

To find out more about the OUMS newsletter and our interviews, email Christopher at



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