Jan 16, 2019
Return to Hull for Hendry who defied odds to become rising star in music

From East Hull to Covent Gardena young man once labelled as having learning difficulties is heading for international stardom as a conductor.

Twenty-seven-year-old James Hendry, who returns to his home city as guest conductor at the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra concert on February 23, says that music transformed him at primary school from ‘special needs into an ‘A’ grade student’.

He now works at the Royal Opera House after completing two years under their Jette Parker Young Artists programme, and also made his debut with the English National Opera in December at the London Coliseum where it is believed he is the youngest conductor in 40 years. Seasons conducting Opera North and the Scottish National Opera are also in the pipeline.

James, from Wawne Road, near Sutton, attended St James’ Church of England Primary School on Dorchester Road where he was inspired to take up percussion through Hull City Council’s Music Service. He says that without this, his life could have been very different.

“It’s incredible what music can do. None of my family was musical, but once I took it up, everything seemed to fall into place and my grades shot up across the board amazing the teachers and my parents.

“It focused my brain like no other subject could. It’s mathematical and a language in itself. I think the cutting back of music in education is very worrying, and, in a way I’m a living example of what music can achieve in schools. “

James joins the Hull Philharmonic with guest star pianist Richard Uttley who will perform Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor. The orchestra will also play Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 (The Eroica) and Weber’s Overture Der Freischutz.

James, who is also an accomplished pianist, added: “My calling is with the white stick on the podium and this will be my first professional booking in my home city. I’m absolutely thrilled and so much looking forward to joining the orchestra.”

Andrew Penny, the Hull Philharmonic’s musical director, said: I am very pleased that James is appearing as a guest conductor. Hull has produced more professional musical talent than it is generally aware of and James is a rising star, of that there is no doubt. The orchestra is once again leading the way in recognising this.”

The February 23 concert starts at 7.30pm, but ticket holders are able to meet James Hendry and Richard Uttley at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced from £10 to £28.50 (discounts available) from Hull City Hall box office, 01482 300300 or online at hullphilharmonic.org or hulltheatres.co.uk