American flutist James Donahue enjoys a multi-faceted career as soloist, chamber player, orchestral musician, and teacher. An enthusiastic advocate of new music, James is known for his diverse programming of avant-garde flute works, and has collaborated with such composers as Warner Jepson, Timothy McCormack, Shirish Korde, Tamar Muskal, Lewis Nielsen, and Helmut Lachenmann. In 2008 he gave the world premier performances of McCormack’s Tumma Pilvi for solo bass flute and chamber ensemble, and Hamara Pilvi for solo bass flute, both of which were dedicated to him.


James maintains a keen interest in the ethnic flute traditions of the world, and is particularly fascinated by the influence of such music on the modern repertoire of the Boehm flute. This interest is clearly reflected in his recital programming which frequently includes works by contemporary Asian composers. He has studied the Buddhist honkyoku music of the Japanese shakuhachi with internationally acclaimed shakuhachi master Michael “Chikuzen” Gould, and has given numerous lecture-recitals on the shakuhachi’s influence in the compositions of Toru Takemitsu, Kazuo Fukushima, Shirish Korde, and numerous others.


James has performed with the Waco and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras, the Lyric Opera of Waco, and from 2006-2008 was solo flutist with the acclaimed Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble. He has had the pleasure of performing under many distinguished conductors, including Benjamin Zander, Christopher Wilkins, David Zinman, Tim Weiss, Stephen Heyde, and Richard Aslanian.


James received his Bachelor of Music in performance from the Baylor University School of Music in 2006, graduating from the flute studio of Helen Ann Shanley. In 2008 he was awarded the Oberlin Conservatory’s prestigious Artist Diploma, following two years of intensive graduate study with the famous French flutist Michel Debost. He has also studied with Tal Perkes and Dr. Rita Linard.

James currently resides in the Chicago area, where he is an active free-lance performer. He serves on the board of directors for the Chicago Flute Club.