About


Canadian composer/musicologist James Wright has taught at Wilfrid Laurier University, McGill University, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University. He is a Full Professor of Music in Carleton’s School for Studies in Art and Culture, where he served for twelve years as Supervisor of Performance Studies (2006-18). In 2002, his Ph.D. dissertation on Schoenberg and Wittgenstein was awarded a Governor General’s Gold Medal, the first time in McGill University’s history that this distinction has been conferred upon a musicologist.  In 2019, James Wright was named University of Toronto Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visiting Professor for the 2019-20 academic year (https://music.utoronto.ca/our-visitors.php).

James Wright’s first book, Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle (Bern: Verlag Peter Lang, 2006, 2nd ed’n 2007) received a Lewis Lockward Award from the American Musicological Society. His second book, Schoenberg’s Chamber Music, Schoenberg’s World (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2009), co-edited by Alan Gillmor, gathers contributions from thirteen distinguished musicologists from around the globe.  It has been described as “[a book that] reveals that Schoenberg’s legacy lives on in his chamber music … [a] substantive volume that fills an important void, and makes several compelling arguments for a general reappraisal of Schoenberg and offers a multifaceted and wide-ranging view of his compositional trajectory” (Frank J. Oteri, Chamber Music America, January 2010).  James Wright’s most recent book, They Shot, He Scored: The Life and Music of Eldon Rathburn (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), examines the life and work of a fascinating and prolific Canadian composer who – in addition to producing a large catalog of orchestral and chamber works – wrote more than 275 film scores during a distinguished 40-year career as a staff composer with the National Film Board of Canada (see “books” page).

James Wright has served as Vice-President of ONMC (Ottawa New Music Creators) and on the Board of the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival.  As a composer, he is perhaps best known for his vocal and choral works, a number of which involve the integration of music with dance and visual art (see works page). His music has been commissioned, performed and recorded by soloists and choirs throughout North America, and is published by Warner-Chappell Music (Miami), Leslie Music (Oakville), Songwright Music (Ottawa), Cypress Music (Vancouver), Rhythmic Trident Music (Vancouver), Fairbank Music (Victoria), Frederick Harris Music (Toronto), and Da Capo Music (Manchester, UK).

Read more on the Carleton University faculty page

Composer profile on Canadian Music Centre website