Young Artist Interview: Baritone James Newby on Finding his Calling

Musicians’ Company Yeoman, James Newby, is making his mark on the international music scene. A Kathleen Ferrier Award winner, OAE Rising Star for 2017-2019 and BBC New Generation Artist 2018-2020, James’ recent roles include Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro for Nevill Holt Opera and a staged Bach St John Passion with the Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa, directed by Calixto Bieito. This summer James will also be performing at some of the UK’s top festivals, including Glyndebourne.


When did you discover you could sing?

I think I’m still waiting to discover that haha! But the first proper singing experience was at primary school, doing a musical that was written by my music teacher Derrick Stone, called Anaclees the Runner.


Which roles have you most enjoyed?

Don Giovanni, Il Conte, Papageno are all roles I’ve loved playing. My favourite role though would be Simon in Howard Moody’s PUSH which tells the real life story of Simon Gronkowski who miraculously escaped from Auschwitz. Simon is still alive and has been to near enough every performance; he’s a brilliant man and it was so humbling to get to bring his story to life.


What operatic roles would you most like to play?

Billy Budd, Eugene Onegin and Silvio in I Pagliacci have to be in the top five I think.


What is the most difficult part you’ve taken on stage?

Marcellus and Player 4 in Brett Dean’s Hamlet. Musically extremely difficult but so worth it, such a brilliant piece.


What has been your biggest artistic achievement?

Such a tricky question, I think the most important achievement was winning the Schubert Prize and Overall Third Prize at the Wigmore Hall Song Competition. I was only 22 at the time and that success gave me so much confidence and also the support I received afterwards from the people I met there has been remarkable. I owe that whole experience and those people so much and doubt I’d have progressed as quickly without that.


What would you do if you weren’t a singer?

Sports psychologist or maybe sports journalist. Something sport-related I think.


What are you most looking forward to this year?

I’ll be moving to Hannover to start in the ensemble at the opera house there so I’m looking forward to that, as well as learning German and living in a new place. I also have recitals lined up at the Wigmore Hall, Oxford Lieder and the Concertgebouw all broadcast on the radio so I’m excited for those too 🙂 .

You can find out more about James at

Interview by @suzywillmott