Music Director


Distinguished by his seasoned conducting, directing orchestras in the United States and abroad, James Ross assumed the Alexandria Symphony’s baton in 2018.

James Ross is a native of Boston, an improviser, a horn-blower, a dogged questioner of concert rituals, a man who likes to move, a phrase-shaper, and a firm believer in the humanizing impact of classical music on the lives of those it touches. Fueled by those various traits, he is starting his sixth season as Music Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in a city he now calls home.

He has led the National Youth Orchestra USA as Orchestra Director since its founding in 2013 and taught conducting at the Juilliard School since 2011 and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia since 2022. He served as Professor and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Maryland for 16 years and was also Music Director of the Orquesta Simfònica del Vallès in Barcelona, Spain. Jim’s principal conducting teachers were Kurt Masur, Otto-Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein. He was Artistic Director of the National Orchestral Institute (NOI) at the University of Maryland from 2002-2012 where his leadership helped served as an impetus for change in the orchestral landscape of our country.

Ross is internationally recognized for his work advancing the future of orchestras through cross-genre collaborations especially with choreographer MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, polymath designer-director Doug Fitch, and video artist Tim McLoraine. In 2019, he led inaugural courses of the Cuban American Youth Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s RCO Young. He spent the pandemic playing soulful tunes with himself and others, now cares for two spunky dogs, and wakes up every day imagining a creative re-boot for classical music. He loves art that is new no matter when it was written. He loves concerts that tell an inner story. And he loves helping conductors and orchestras find their own singular voices.