james diaz

Frances Richard Fellow


“As a Colombian, I have been always influenced by many contrasting cultural, political and environmental manifestations. This allows me to understand the reason for why I am deeply interested in exotic and distinct kinds of expression and finding common points between opposites. For instance, during an orchestration course I took in college, I noticed that Spectralism and Minimalism, despite their differences in aesthetic and technical approaches, agree on the importance of time. Thus, I have a profound interest in opposites, such as electronic vs. acoustic music, improvisation vs. extremely notated-music, pattern-based vs. unrepeated music, new vs. old music…”

— James Díaz


Currently based in New York City, James Diaz is one of Colombia's most promising composers. In 2015, he won the National Prize of Music in Composition from the Colombian Ministry of Culture for Saturn Lights, his concerto for percussion trio and orchestra. The same year, his piece was recorded by conductor Mateo Sepulveda and the REC Symphony, with Diaz as producer.

Recently, his orchestral work From Infinity was selected for the 2017 Underwood New Music Readings, hosted by the American Composers Orchestra in New York. In addition, his string quartet Infrastructures won second place and honorable mention in the 2017 Manhattan Prize.

As winner of the 2014 Prize of Music in Composition for the reopening of the Teatro Colón, his orchestral piece Eclosion was premiered by conductor Claudio Cruz and the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia. The work was recently recorded by conductor Cecilia Espinosa and the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra for the upcoming CD New Colombian Music for Orchestra.

James has also won several composition prizes for his chamber and wind ensemble music, including the 2015 Choral and Symphony Composition Award by the Bogotá Philharmonic; the 2013 Composition Prize of the International Winter Festival of Campos do Jordão for his string quartet Dynamics of Meteorite; and the XV National Award for Musical Composition, City of Bogotá, from the Bogotá Philharmonic for his work Iron Curtains.

Other achievements include a mention of honor from the Premio Latino-Americano de Composição Piero Bastianelli in Brazil, for which he received commission by MAB (Música de Agora na Bahia) and Camará Ensemble; and second place and special mention in the National Prize in Composition 2013 by the Bogotá Philharmonic for his orchestra concerto The Ivory Tower.

In addition, James has been selected three times by the Colombian National Symphonic Music Association in the National Competition for Young Colombian Composers Platform 28, where Mirrors in the Void (2017), Reflections of a Radioactive Sky (2014) and Catarsis (2013) were conducted by Jose Luis Dominguez, Tomasz Golka and Alejandro Posada, respectively. His first orchestral work, REFERENCE, was selected to be premiered in the Reading Sessions of New Colombian Composers conducted by Baldur Brönnimann in 2012.

James studied composition with Moisés Bertrán, Harold Vázquez and Gustavo Parra at the National Conservatory of Music, where he received his Bachelor of Music in Composition, Honor Grade, in 2015. He has attended master classes with composers including Kalevi Aho, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Steven Stucky, Ana Clyne, Cesar Camarero, Aylton Escobar, Flo Menezes and Gustavo Leone. He was a two-time composition fellow at the International Winter Festival of Campos do Jordão - Brazil. James is currently pursuing an M.M. in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music, where he is studying composition with Dr. Reiko Fueting. He is sponsored by the Banco de la República de Colombia and is a recipient of the Young Artist Talents Scholarship by ICETEX and the MSM Scholarship.