Photo by Reuben Radding ~ click for hi res

James Moore is a composer, guitarist, and bandleader who has earned the titles of “local electric guitar hero" by Time Out New York and "model new music citizen" by The New York Times. He enjoys an active career writing, performing, and collaborating with an eclectic community of artists, bringing in influences from classical, folk, jazz, indie rock, and experimental music.

Moore’s concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, Sleep is Shattered, which he premiered as both composer and soloist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series, was praised by the Chicago Tribune as “… a highlight among highlights, not only for Moore’s sharp-eared handling of the solo guitar lines and loop pedals but his remarkable orchestral writing … an enthralling addition to the guitar repertoire.” In this piece–originally written for the influential guitarist Marc Ribot–and in many of his projects, Moore enjoys bringing together unique ensembles and developing a collective language.

Recent compositional projects include Send Back My Love, a set of ballads for the multi-faceted mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran with Moore on electric resonator guitar; Ghost School, a multimedia piece for haegeum (a Korean bowed string instrument) and found sounds, written for Soo Yeon Lyuh with So Percussion; Desolation Pops for prepared piano and strings, written for the trailblazing pianist Kathleen Supové with The Rhythm Method string quartet; and The Untroubled Mind, a song cycle featuring vocalist/fiddler Anna Roberts-Gevalt, cellist Theresa Wong, and Ellen Fullman performing on her 50+ foot microtonally-tuned “Long String Instrument.”

Moore is a founding member and director of Dither, an electric guitar quartet specializing in contemporary composed and improvised music. Throughout their 15 years as a group, the quartet has presented hundreds of new compositions and garnered international acclaim for “sophisticated, hard-driving, and stylistically omnivorous music making.” (NY Times)

Performing on resonator guitar and banjo, Moore leads the The Hands Free, a lively acoustic group with fellow performer-composers Caroline Shaw, Nathan Koci, and Eleonore Oppenheim. The Hands Free’s debut album on New Amsterdam Records has been described as “an eclectic and whimsical release that allows the listener a glimpse into the joyful after-hours music making of this wildly talented quartet.” (I Care If You Listen)

Moore can also be found playing with the avant-grunge/sloppy-math rock band Forever House (“weird fun house architecture where everything tips and distorts and unsettles” - Dusted Magazine), in duo with violinist compatriot Andie Tanning. (“virtuoso performers, fusing their disparate instrumental voices” - SF Gate), and as a member of an extensive roster of ensembles led by his friends and colleagues.

Moore’s first solo recording, a new interpretation of John Zorn's notorious collection of guitar etudes The Book of Heads, was released on Tzadik in 2015, accompanied with a performance film by director Stephen Taylor. He worked closely with Zorn to develop these strange and idiosyncratic works, which require an arsenal of extended techniques involving balloons, children’s toys, and common household items. Moore has also worked with Zorn to develop many of his improvisational "game pieces," culminating in the release of Dither plays Zorn, which was dubbed a "top avant album" of the year by Rolling Stone.

Other recording highlights include Ted Hearne’s Sound From the Bench, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in music, performed by The Crossing Choir with Moore as a featured electric guitarist; and Mason Bates’s GRAMMY-winning opera recording of The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, performed by the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra with Moore as steel-string guitar soloist.

As a chamber and orchestral player, Moore has performed with Dawn Upshaw & Gilbert Kalish, Alarm Will Sound, Bang on a Can, Roomful of Teeth, So Percussion, The LA Phil New Music Group, Wet Ink, and Clogs. As a sideman, he has backed up vocalists Toshi Reagon and Rhiannon Giddens, and played with members of Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Wilco, and The National. Composers he has worked with include Robert Ashley, John Adams, Eve Beglarian, Pauline Oliveros, Larry Polansky, and Steve Reich.

Moore works frequently as a collaborator in theater, dance, and multimedia projects, and has performed extensively with playwright Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players. As an onstage musician, singer, actor, and music arranger, he has taken part in the international tours of NYCP's Neutral Hero, The Evening, and the upcoming Field of Mars. Other notable staged projects include PLAY/PAUSE, an electrified dance piece by composer David Lang and choreographer Susan Marshall; Object Collection's It's All True, a maximalist opera constructed from the live archives of the punk band Fugazi; and Bryce Dessner's Triptych, a meditation on the works of Robert Mapplethorpe.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Moore received his B.A. in Music from The University of California, Santa Cruz; his M.M. in Classical Guitar Performance from Yale University; and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Music Composition at Princeton University. He has served on the faculty of Princeton's Atelier program, and has been a guest lecturer at universities across the country and abroad. His writings include articles for NewMusicBox and Arcana: Musicians on Music.