B i o g r a p h y
James O’Farrell has been working as a professional musician and teacher since 1990. During that time he has performed extensively both as a jazz saxophonist and a classical singer (tenor). As a singer, James has performed with Opera Lyra Ottawa (1997-2001) as a chorus member and singing small roles. In December 2000, he performed the role of Don Ramiro (Prince Charming) from Rossini’s Cinderella with Opera Lyra’s Young Artist Program. This led to many concert engagements with such groups as the Blackburn Chorus (Schubert Mass 2002, Handel Messiah 2004, and Mozart Requiem 2006) and Kanata Symphony Orchestra (Mozart Requiem 2001). In April 2003, James sang the role of Cavaradossi from Puccini’s Tosca in concert with Calyx Concerts of Toronto. He added to this with performances of Mozart's "Cosi fan Tutte" as Ferrando, and Bizet's "Carmen" as Don Jose.
Because of his teaching, James has spent most of his time since then performing Oratorio and as a recitalist, performing such works as "Abraham and Isaac" (Britten), "Serenade for Tenor and Horn" (Britten), Symphony No. 2 (F. Mendelssohn), "Te Deum" (A. Bruckner), "Litaniae Lauretanae" (Mozart) under the batons of well-known Canadian conductors such as Louis Lavigeur,Marcel Brousseau, David Currie, and Rennie Regehr.
James is known for his powerful and resonant tenor voice, and possesses a tremendous palette of vocal colours and nuance. His interpretations are deeply emotionally evocative without resorting to vocal histrionics. He sings with a tremendous sense of line and a deep intellectual and emotional commitment to the text.
As a jazz saxophonist, James has performed at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival both as a leader of James O'Farrell Quartet and as one of the original members of the Sax ensemble "No Trumpets Please" based out of Ottawa, Ontario.
Currently, James resides and works as a teacher in Moncton, New Brunswick. He has been featured frequently as duo, trio, and quartet leader in his home tome of Ottawa, Ontario, and more recently in St. John, Fredericton, and Moncton in New Brunswick. Frequent collaborators include Yves Laroche (jazz piano instructor at University of Ottawa), Tom Dennison (bass and drums), Nick Gummeson (piano), Chad Ball (bass), Dave Bartlett (Drums).