James Hewitt is active in both early and contemporary music, and becoming well known for his engaging personal style and improvisatory prowess.
He performs throughout Europe, both solo and in ensembles including Contrasto Armonico, Yiddish baroque ensemble Simkchat Hanefesh, Pera Ensemble (baroque and Turkish instruments), and the Scroll Ensemble, which specialises in programmes inspired by improvisatory practices of the baroque, and was featured in the Leipzig Improvisation Festival. He has participated in several recordings with Contrasto Armonico, associated with an extended project to record all of Handel's Italian Cantatas, and has broadcast on Dutch Radio 4. He has lead historical improvisation workshops in Den Haag, Weimar and Poland.
He also works with contemporary improvisation ensembles the Royal Improviser’s Orchestra, Brendan Faegre Edge Ensemble, and DAMU (music/dance improvisation), and in the Klingon Opera U, in which he plays a newly made instrument, tin dach. On this instrument, similar to a rebab, he also performs modal improvisation and Gregorian chant.
His compositions include works for Cambridge University Opera Society (Moses and Pharaoh), Ely Cathedral Choir, the Nieuw Ensemble, Modello Ensemble, and the Fokker Organ in Amsterdam Muziekgebauw aan't IJ. He has received performances at the Nordic Early Keyboard Festival, Cheltenham Festival, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, and during the Gaudeamus Interpreter's Competition in Amsterdam. His works will increasingly become available from Parklaan Publications on Tutti Music.
He read music at Girton College, Cambridge, and continued his studies at the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague: baroque violin with Pavlo Beznosiuk, and composition with Martijn Padding, Cornelis de Bondt and Guus Janssen. He completed his masters there with research in improvised counterpoint.