Dr Toni James
Toni James is one of the finest Scottish pianists of her generation with a performance career spanning more than twenty years.
For over a decade she has led music and arts organisations in the U.S., U.K. and Channel Islands and is known for her voluntary work leading new initiatives that support access and development within the arts for underprivileged and marginalised communities.
Born in the Scottish town of Paisley, Toni was introduced to a TV audience as a seventeen-year-old keyboard finalist in the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year Competition. She led major educational initiatives for the San Diego Symphony Orchestra followed by four years as Managing Director of San Diego Guitar Festival. She was Development and Operations Manager for the charity Music in Action and in 2022, she was appointed to lead Jersey Opera House interim, collaborating with Government, successfully delivering the strategy to secure the refurbishment bid.
She is an award-winning performer, recording artist and multi-disciplinary arts producer. Reverberate, co-directed with Blythe Barton Dance won Best Production at the 2015 San Diego Fringe Festival. She won recording of the year from MusicWeb International and Fanfare Magazine with the latter’s Jerry Dubins writing “this quite simply is the most rapturously beautiful performance of the work I’ve ever heard”.
Recognised for her leadership and advocacy driving opportunities in the arts for people living in areas of multiple deprivation, she served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Tannahill Arts Festival and CREATE Paisley.
Appointed Professor of Music, Performance and Pedagogy at San Diego State University School of Music and Dance, Toni was awarded the University’s Exceptional Service Award. She was later appointed Head of Academic Quality & Standards for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Liverpool, where she taught performance and pedagogy as well as launching the inaugural Women in Music conference.
Toni has delivered access, development and progression in music for children, young people and adults of all ages and backgrounds as Director of the Piano Academy at San Diego State University Community Music School and San Diego Summer Music Institute.