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 just completed his fourth year as Music Director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. He is presently Orchestra Director of the National Youth Orchestra – USA at Carnegie Hall and serves on the conducting faculty of the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center. He recently finished a distinguished 16-year tenure as Professor and Director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Maryland at College Park and a two-year stint as Music Director of the Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès in Barcelona, Spain.

Maestro Ross has led such diverse orchestras as the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Utah Symphony, Les Arts Florissants, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia, the Binghamton Philharmonic, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in side-by-side concerts. He has served as Music Director of the Yale Symphony Orchestra and Assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His principal conducting teachers were Kurt Masur, Otto-Werner Mueller, Seiji Ozawa, and Leonard Bernstein whose support and cultural values became a deep source of inspiration for James.

As a horn soloist, he has performed with such orchestras as the Boston Symphony, the Boston Pops, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the Leipzig Radio Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus. When he was awarded Third Prize in the Munich International Horn Competition in 1978, he became the first American and one of the youngest competitors ever to do so. His performances and recordings as principal horn of the Gewandhaus, including Strauss’ Four Last Songs with soprano Jessye Norman, helped him gain international recognition as an artist.

As a teacher, Maestro Ross has served on the faculties of Yale University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges, and taught conducting for four summers at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz. He was Artistic Director of the National Orchestral Institute (NOI) at the University of Maryland from 2002-2012 where his leadership helped serve as an impetus for change in the orchestral landscape of the United States. He 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.

Maestro Ross is a native of Boston, an improviser, a committed questioner of concert rituals, a man who likes to move, a story-teller, and a firm believer in and advocate for the ongoing humanizing impact of classical music on the lives of those it touches.