"Some people seemed destined to lead unconventional lives, and James VanDemark is certainly one of them," said the New York Times in the first of its three profiles on VanDemark. Performer, academic, boxer, producer, and entrepreneur - these are the principal roles VanDemark has successfully played in a highly diverse career spanning nearly four decades.
VanDemark’s performing career has included solo appearances with the New York Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra (Lincoln Center), Minnesota Orchestra, National Symphony of Mexico, Netherlands Radio Symphony, Quebec Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, and many more. Chamber music appearances have included the Cleveland, Guarneri, Muir, Colorado and Ying Quartets, the Gryphon Trio, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, as well as legendary pianists Andre Watts, Yefim Bronfman, Alfred Brendel, and Gary Graffman. VanDemark has been featured on Lincoln Center’s “Great Performers Series” on four separate occasions, and has been heard in recital on the BBC, RTE (Ireland), SFB (Berlin), and the Bayerische Rundfunk (Munich).
VanDemark is also the recipient of commissioned works by many composers, including three Pulitzer Prize winners: Gian-Carlo Menotti, Joseph Schwantner, and Christopher Rouse. VanDemark has also give the American premieres of concerti by Nino Rota and Edvard Tubin, and the German premiere of the Concerto for Double Bass by Hans Werner Henze.
VanDemark's arts and culture projects have been featured in the New York Times, Connoisseur Magazine, on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the BBC, CBC, NPR, and in many other media outlets around the world. In considerable demand as a speaker on entrepreneurial skills in music at colleges across the United States and Canada, VanDemark has also received great acclaim for his frequent role as narrator with many prominent symphony orchestras, including more than 40 performances with the Rochester Philharmonic and 15 with the Texas Festival Orchestra. Most recently VanDemark was recently commissioned by Georg Solti Prize winner Yaniv Dinur to rewrite Peter and the Wolf for an adult audience. The work was premiered in October of this year.
Appointed to the Eastman School of Music at the age of 23, VanDemark was the youngest faculty member ever appointed to a professorial position at a major American music school. His students perform in many of the world’s great orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Tokyo Chamber Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic – and many more. His students have also been nominated for—and won—numerous Grammy awards in various categories, including classical, contemporary, jazz, and bluegrass.
VanDemark’s students have also held positions at major music schools, including Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory, Eastman School of Music, Louisiana State University, Carnegie-Mellon, Peabody Conservatory, University of Delaware, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Music, Michigan State University, University of Colorado, University of Alabama, University of Tennessee, and many others.
As a founding member of Square Peg Entertainment, VanDemark developed and represented screenplays and properties of Oscar winners Ernest Thompson, Horton Foote, Eiko Ishioka, Ron Harwood, Oscar nominee Hesper Anderson, Stu Silver, Paul Theroux, and many others. VanDemark also developed the World War I story CODE BROTHERS for CTV (Toronto), THE WAYNE AND SUE SHOW for Tribune Entertainment, produced the album and music video THE GIFT with singer Linda Eder for Atlantic Records, and with television legend Sir David Frost, developed the Frederick Forsyth novella THE SHEPHERD in conjunction with Shaftesbury Films (Toronto). VanDemark also co-produced and cast SPEAK LOW, the highly successful Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Gala featuring Jerry Orbach, Donna Murphy, Duncan Sheik, and other stars of Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera in the music of Kurt Weill.
VanDemark has also served as Music Supervisor for John Cougar Mellencamp’s film AFTER IMAGE. VanDemark also collaborated with noted Hollywood writer Glenn Berenbeim in developing biographical programs on jazz musician Chet Baker, designer Bob Mackie, and singer/entertainer Diahann Carroll. VanDemark is also in considerable demand as a speaker on television and film development and financing.
After developing the television pilot PRIVATEER about professional motorcycle racing for the Speed Channel (now FoxSports1), VanDemark became co-owner of AMA Superbike team Acronym Motorpsorts, which raced in the 2007 season at tracks across the United States.
Acclaimed for his extensive work in the Native American community, VanDemark commissioned and developed the Native collaborative musical work CIRCLE OF FAITH, profiled in The New York Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Detroit Free Press, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, Denver Post, Lakota Times, and on NPR's Morning Edition. VanDemark has helped produce more than 40 performances of the work in the United States and Canada.
VanDemark was the founder of the innovative festival Music at the Gainey Center, which featured Naumburg winning Muir and Colorado Quartets and pianist Anton Nel. The festival was one of the first to utilize specific corporate residencies for chamber music groups, resulting in performances on factory floors, corporate office spaces, farms, and migrant farm workers camps.
As an accomplished amateur boxer, VanDemark was recently profiled on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, The Strad, on CBC's "Q," WNYC's "Soundcheck," and was featured at length on ESPN's E-60 sports documentary series. VanDemark’s conditioning and boxing program for students, musicians, and the general public has also brought him considerable worldwide acclaim. His recent boxing/ conditioning presentations include the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, Colby College, Loyola University New Orleans, and the University of Santiago (Chile).
VanDemark attributes the longevity and diversity of his career not only to his own athletic training, but also to his work in the the health care field in the 1970’s, when he worked extensively under the renowned neurologist Dr. Howard S. Barrows at the McMaster University School of Medicine in Canada in developing the groundbreaking Simulated/Standardized Patient Program (SPP). As a result of these achievements, VanDemark was named to the Industry Board of the American Health Council in October 2017.
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