© Copyright 2019 James McGowan- All Rights Reserved


Bios for different functions

Short Version
James McGowan is a pianist (jazz and classical), organist, improviser, accompanist, choral conductor, composer, arranger, music theorist, and educator, in addition to his research and administrative activities as a faculty member in the Music program at Carleton University.

Carleton Academic Bio 
(Click link to open new page on Carleton University website) 

Medium-length Performance Bio
James McGowan (PhD Eastman) is a pianist (ARCT), commissioned composer, choral conductor, award-winning educator, and published music theorist at home in classical, jazz, and improvised styles. He serves as the Supervisor of Performance Studies at Carleton University, Assistant Director of the Carleton Jazz Camp, and professor teaching courses in music theory, musicianship, composition, and community music. He has been a clinician and adjudicator for different arts organizations (Junos, Kiwanis, Canadian Music Showcase, City of Ottawa, etc.), and given workshops on topics including introductory improvisation, choral singing, jazz piano approaches, jazz music theory, and managing performance anxiety. He has performed frequently in music festivals, including the Ottawa Jazz Festival, Stewart Park Festival, Skylight Festival and Merrickville's Jazz Festival.

As a pianist, Dr. McGowan specializes in collaborative performance and accompanying, and has performed in the USA, Canada, and Europe. He performs with a number of Ottawa-based musicians, including his Process Jazz Trio/Quartet. He also performs with the jazz-fusion quartet Modasaurus that features his own compositions, including the 2017 album Two Intents, and a new Modasaurus album to be released in 2020. He produced two other albums in 2018 with the United-Church funded EvenSong Jazz quintet and a duo album of improvised music with Dong-Won Kim (who performs in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble).  

Long Version
James McGowan is a pianist, conductor, composer, arranger, educator, and music theorist equally at home in many genres of music. With degrees in Music Theory and Composition from the Eastman School of Music (2005), University of North Texas (1995), and University of Toronto (1992, 1993), Dr. McGowan is a faculty member in the Music program at Carleton University. He also holds an A.R.C.T. in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto).
Dr. McGowan is a passionate educator and has been recognized with multiple university-wide awards for his teaching (two-time recipient of Carleton Residences Favourite Faculty Award, CU Teaching Achievement Award ($15,000 research in teaching award), CU New Faculty Teaching Award, CUSA Teaching Excellence Award, and McMaster University Student Union Teaching Award for Humanities). At Carleton, he is the Supervisor of Performance Studies, Assistant Director of the Carleton Jazz Camp, and has previously served as Supervisor of Ensembles, Masterclasses and Practica and Undergraduate Supervisor. As a choral conductor, he has directed choirs at McMaster University, Laurentian University, Carleton University, as well as several church and community choirs. He has served as a performance and composition clinician and adjudicator for different arts organizations (Junos, Kiwanis, Lions, City of Ottawa, etc.), and given workshops on topics ranging from introductory improvisation, to topics in choral singing, to popular music theory, to managing performance anxiety.

Finding the hybrid space between classical, jazz, gospel, and contemporary improvisation, James has given piano performances in Canada, the United States, and Sweden, and has collaborated with ensembles including the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra, James Madison University Jazz Ensemble, and individual musicians from Jesse Stewart to Ian Tamblyn to Dong-Won Kim and Heidi Melton to Barbara Hannigan. He has performed frequently in the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, as well as the Stewart Park Festival, Merrickville's Jazz Festival, and Skylight Festival. He currently performs with his Process Jazz Trio/Quartet, Modasaurus, EvenSong, Michael Curtis Hanna, and others; in the last few years he has released three albums as leader or co-leader, with another on the way: "Two Intents," "Over the Mountain," and "Songs from the Bridge." 

As an award-winning composer and arranger (including First Prize PROCAN Canada-wide Young Composers Competition; Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship, UofT; Canadian University Music Society Composition Competition), James has composed in most genres including choral cantatas, orchestral music, chamber music, songs (singer-songwriter and art songs), and compositions for jazz ensembles, including music for his jazz-fusion quartet Modasaurus. He has had commissions by various groups including the Etobicoke School of the Arts choir and orchestra program, Alexander Singers and Players (Toronto), and the Atlantic Voices Choir of Ottawa.

As a music theorist, Dr. McGowan has presented his research across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He has several published articles, primarily in the field of jazz theory but also in choral music. He has developed and continues to expand specialized course packs in music theory and musicianship courses he has taught. He is currently the editor of the Jazz Theory Bibliography, an online database hosted at Carleton University.  Selected publications include: “‘Consonance’ in Tonal Jazz: A Critical Survey of its Semantic History,” “Psychoacoustic Foundations of Contextual Harmonic Stability in Jazz Piano Voicings,” “Riemann’s Functional Framework for Extended Jazz Harmony,” “Applying the Metaphor of Motion to Phrase Analysis and Performance of Choral Music,” in addition to his oft-cited 2005 disseration "Dynamic Consonance in Selected Piano Performances of Tonal Jazz."

James is also active in community music leadership, in which he has directed several amateur church music programs (recently serving as Director of Music for Trinity United in Ottawa from 2012 to 2019), conducted school-age choirs, coached school-age instrumental music ensembles, taught musicianship for a Suzuki music program, accompanied music theatre ensembles, led a musical group for those living with mental illness, performed in nursing homes and palliative-care facilities, developed and taught a course in Community Music at Carleton, and mentored others to develop their skill sets in community music.

© Copyright 2019 James McGowan
All Rights Reserved