"In all of his music, James Aikman demonstrates the rare gift among contemporary composers of putting the listener inside his music, rather than outside desperately trying to get in..."
- Music Critic Charles Staff
Composing what has become a significant body of substantial individual musical statements, James Aikman and his work in various musical genres first came to the international stage during his graduate school days at Indiana University. Post-graduate, James Aikman earned a Fulbright in Amsterdam then a Fellowship at The University of Michigan, where he served on the faculty. He is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
Each new piece evokes a particular musical image, with its own distinct, emotive effect. The intentional strict limitation and control of musical materials enables stylistic unity within individual pieces. It also allows for maximizing contrast between sections of large-scale, multi-movement works. His music has variously been described as, “richly sonorous,” “fascinating,” “plaintively beautiful,” “consciously eclectic,” “exciting, inventive and fresh. “ “It was intense.”
With a distinguished catalogue of music for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, and electronics, composer James Aikman received his musical and academic training at Butler University, The Jacob’s School of Music of Indiana University (M.Mus., D.Mus.) and through the Royal Conservatorie in Holland. Aikman’s music has been consistently awarded and honored during the past thirty years and has been heard at many prestigious festivals and venues, including Amsterdam's Gaudeamus Musicweek, France’s Festivals International de Musique, London's Wigmore Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, the OJAI Festival in Los Angeles, Tanglewood, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie Hall.
Notable honors and awards for his music include those from The American Music Center; ASCAP; Indiana University; Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Bourges, France; The International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM National Award, New York 2000); The League of American Orchestras’ American Repertoire Project; The University of Michigan; G. Shirmer’s American Art Song Competition Winner; The Fulbright Program, among others.
Many extraordinary musicians, including Charles Webb, Heidi Dietrich-Klein, Deanna Aikman, Michael Jinsoo Lim, James Pellerite, Csaba Erdélyi, Karen Bentley, Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish, Alexander Kerr, Taimur Sullivan, Charles Wetherbee, Mihaela Martin, Zeyda and Hidetaro Suzuki, Lisa Leonard, Davis Brooks, and Joshua Bell have performed Aikman’s music. His larger works have been played by the New World Symphony in Miami, Denver’s Lamont Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, The Civic Orchestra of Chicago, The University of Michigan Symphony Band, The Michigan Chamber Symphony, The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, The Indiana University New Music Ensemble, The St. Petersburg State Academic Chamber Orchestra, and The National Gallery Orchestra led by notable conductors Michael Morgan, David Loebel, John C. Whitney, Christopher Russell, David Wiley, H. Robert Reynolds, David Dzubay, Kenneth Kiesler, Nan Washburn, Lawrence Golan, Vladimir Lande, Gunther Schuller, Catherine Sailer, Kirk Trevor, Kelly Corcoran, Mischa Santora, David Cho, Mallory Thompson, and Matthew Kraemer.