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James Janssen 

piano • organ • fortepiano • harpsichord

conductor • composer • teacher/coach



James Janssen conducts a dress rehearsal for the world premiere of “Joseph’s Gift.”
James Janssen conducts a dress rehearsal for the world premiere of “Joseph’s Gift.”

A little press...

“Music Director/Conductor James Janssen kept the troops in together, no easy task as the orchestra of twenty-one was necessarily behind the action. Always sensitive to both Lynch’s writing and to the breathing of the singers, much of the success of the evening must be attributed to Janssen.”

Chicago Theatre Review

Via Sequencia...

12 Jun 2020

Twelve weeks and counting

Tuesday marked 12 weeks of remotely working from my kitchen table/COVID-19 home office. And today is 13 weeks since I last visited Jeff at the Handsome Bastard Barber Shoppe. 

About Me


James Janssen made his debut as a pianist at age 13 performing Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D Major with the Anderson (Indiana) Symphony Orchestra. A native of Indianapolis, he received his education from Indiana University and Oberlin Conservatory’s Baroque Performance Institute, where he studied with some of the world’s most respected experts in the field of Baroque and Classical performance practice. It was there that he found his love and affinity for historically informed performance. He is artistic director and co-founder of Haydn by the Lake, a period instrument chamber ensemble specializing in music of the Baroque and Classical periods. James has toured extensively in recital with his husband of 30 years Mark Crayton, countertenor. He has been broadcast on Chicago’s classical radio station, WFMT, in recital with Crayton and in concert with Haydn by the Lake. James is artistic director, resident music director, and conductor with Evanston Chamber Opera Company (EChO). He conducted the world premiere of two new operas by Francis Lynch with EChO; Joseph’s Gift (2016) and For Those in Peril (2018). Other works he conducted with EChO include Bizet’s Doctor Miracle (2019), Wolf-Ferrari’s Susanna’s Secret (2019), Chabrier’s An Incomplete Education (2020), and d’Albert’s The Departure (2020). Also in 2019, James conducted, from the piano bench, two EChO benefit performances of an abbreviated La Bohème for four singers. He has also appeared in the Chicago area with Music of the Baroque, Ars Antigua, and St. Clement Orchestra and in numerous recitals in Ganz Hall at Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. Outside Chicagoland, James has performed across the country, including multiple appearances at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC and in recital at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City and DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at University of Notre Dame in South Bend IN. Internationally, he has played on the Amstelrande Concerten series (Amsterdam), at Grosvenor Hall (London), and at the Handel & Hendrix in London, returning there in 2021. He has taught master classes at the University of Notre Dame and at the Hap’ning Place in London, United Kingdom. James most enjoys collaborating with singers, playing Classical chamber music on fortepiano, and supporting the choir and congregation from the organ bench. Equally at home at the piano, fortepiano, harpsichord, and organ, James is also a composer. He is organist and associate choir director at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Evanston IL and can occasionally be found playing the musical saw, recorder, or melodica. James is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

Wedding Officiant — A number of years ago, I was ordained by the Universal Life Church (ULC) specifically to offer same-sex marriage rites for friends who weren’t able to be married by their denomination’s clergy. So, I’m available and authorized to officiate weddings, LGBTQ+ or otherwise! Contact me if you’d like to schedule a consultation. -James

Photo Gallery

James Janssen publicity shot (c.1999)
James Janssen publicity shot (c.1999)

Photos from over the years

This is a collection of my instruments, the church where I have worked for twenty years, musicians with whom I have collaborated, and other related photos that are important to me. Contact Me if you would like more information about any of these things.