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James Toland Biography
James Toland has more than five decades of experience in the many worlds of vocal music. Since 1991, his primary work has been as a private voice teacher whose students have sung principal roles in opera houses such as La Scala, Covent Garden, Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, New York City Opera, and San Francisco Opera as well as symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and the world. He has served on the vocal coaching staff of the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the Young Women’s Choral Project, Piedmont Choirs and several local high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. His work as a clinician specializing in vocal health issues and "how to" workshops in achieving beauty and dynamic range has taken him to church choral groups as well as amateur and semi professional groups such as Cantare Con Vivo, the San Francisco Choral Society, the San Francisco Bay Area Chamber Choir and the choral music programs of the University of Tennessee, Bethany College in St. Paul, Minnesota and California Baptist University. In addition to his long association as chorus master with Festival Opera, Mr. Toland has also worked as vocal coach on productions such as West Side Story, Anything Goes and Miss Saigon requiring the preparation of extensive singing throughout. He is currently the Artistic Director of Pacific Masterworks Chorus. www.pacificmasterworkschorus.org
In 2010, James Toland conceived the idea of a San Francisco Bay Area voice competition to support singers working to achieve professional success. The idea met with considerable enthusiasm, including that of Oakland Symphony Music Director and Conductor Michael Morgan, who agreed to grant the first place competition winner the opportunity to perform with the Oakland Symphony. In 2018, the 5th JTVA Vocal Competition awarded fourteen singers a total of more than $100,000. Singers from around the world vie for a place in the competition finals held each summer when all competitors are awarded a cash prize. (www.jamestolandvocalarts.org)
Prior to his work in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Toland worked for twelve years at Eugene Opera in Oregonas the Artistic and General Director,where he was the stage director for many operas inthe acclaimed Hult Center for the Performing Arts. His innovative and highly comedic productions of The Barber of Seville and Cosí fan tutte were featured on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered".
Mr. Toland's keen interest and study of world languages have yielded conversational abilities in six languages which facilitate considerably his work in vocal music with private students and choral groups. Particularly noted for his skill in the specifics of diction, Mr. Toland has undertaken to write a book with the working title of "Phonemes First" that will seek to illustrate in easy to understand language how good diction enables beautiful and healthy singing.
While in Eugene, Mr. Toland hosted a regular summer radio program at the University of Oregon's NPR affiliate, KWAX,entitled "The Opera Ranger and His Dog, Diva" - a light hearted and wide ranging audio sampling of the incredible and demanding art form of opera. A frequent collaborator with academicians at the University of Oregon, he was also a guest lecturer in the theater department in scene design for opera,where one student’s work was selected for production at Eugene Opera.
Before his association with Eugene Opera, Mr. Toland was at the Houston Grand Opera where he was the company manager of HGO's touring arm, Texas Opera Theater,which was featured in both Time and Newsweek as the company toured throughout the United States with productions of La Bohème and La Cenerentola.