Leon James was born in Bedfordshire. He attended Westminster Abbey Choir School as a Chorister from 1973 to 1978 under the direction of Dr. Douglas Guest. Study at the Birmingham Conservatoire began in 1983 with Brian Rayner Cook, receiving coaching from Geoffrey Pratley, Stuart Smith and Pamela Cook MBE. He graduated on the teaching and performing courses in 1987. Whilst at the Conservatoire, Leon won the Gordon Clinton English Song Prize and the Reginald Vincent Lieder Competition. He was a finalist in the Canoldir Award Competition and won the Birmingham and Midland Institute Prize for singing in 1987.
His career over the years has involved performing in numerous Operas and Oratorios, as well as singing professionally for The Sixteen, The Academy of Ancient Music and Ex Cathedra. He appears as a soloist on some of Ex Cathedra’s CD recordings (under his previous surname of Storey), and performed with them as a soloist in Sicily, Milan, Lyon, Lourdes, Leipzig, Dresden, and Bruges over the years.
Leon has always combined his singing engagements with his teaching career. He has been a ‘Choral Animateur’ for Ex Cathedra and the British Federation of Young Choirs (now Sing Up!), as well as a highly regarded and successful Head of Music in different schools over the last twenty-eight years. He was the Musical Director of both the Selly Park Choral Society and The Phoenix Singers in Birmingham up until 2001.
He was Director of Music at Chipping Campden School in the North Cotswolds from 2001-2013, where he directed superb student performances of the musicals “Oliver”, “Les Miserables”, “The Return to the Forbidden Planet”, “West Side Story”, “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Godspell”, plus concert performances of Vivaldi’s “Gloria’, Rutter‘s “Requiem”, “Five Famous English Church Anthems” and Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols”. He also directed the Chipping Campden Swing Band, a big band that at its peak had over 60 pieces on its play list from the 1920’s to the present day. Leon also formed and directed two highly regarded vocal groups Canzona and Canzonetta, all of whom can easily be viewed performing on YouTube.
Leon moved on to pastures new in January 2014 and is currently the Head of Music at St. Benedict’s RC School in Alcester, as well as being the Musical Director of the Warwickshire Singers and the Evesham Community Choir.