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Canon James Buonemani | Organist and Director of Music


Photo © 2015 by Danielle Klebanow

James Buonemani began his musical career at age thirteen when he was appointed Assistant Organist to then Director of Music William Ferris at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rochester, NY. An early interest in composition won him first prize in a national competition for composers sponsored by Baylor University, at age 15. Since then he has composed music exclusively for the church. His setting of the “Preces and Responses”, published by Paraclete Music, has been performed throughout the US and in England and is fast becoming a staple of the Evensong repertoire. His “Vis Aeternitatis”, published by MusicaBellaLuna, has recently been released on the Raven Label, performed by the Choir of the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, DC and broadcast nationwide on NPR. A review of this work appearing in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of the “American Record Guide” remarked on “Buonemani’s beautifully evocative setting…a welcome discovery.” His “Missa Miamiensis” for choir, organ, piano, soprano saxophone and field drum was premiered at a Sesquicentennial Eucharist in 1994 at the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, DC, with Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning, officiating, and has subsequently been performed multiple times in Chicago, New York City, Miami and Los Angeles.

Mr. Buonemani graduated with highest distinction from both the Eastman School of Music and the Westminster Choir College and has also studied in England at the Royal School of Church Music. He was awarded the Performer's Certificate from Eastman in 1978 as an organ student of David Craighead. He was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, the American collegiate honor society for musicians, in 1977. Since 2008, Buonemani has been listed in Marquis’s “Who’s Who.”

He has performed as solo organist and/or conductor in such notable venues as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City, and Church of St. Paul the Apostle at Lincoln Center, Grace Cathedral (San Francisco), First Congregational Church (Los Angeles) and in England at Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, St. George’s Chapel Windsor, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Wells Cathedral and in Mexico City’s Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe and on Mexican National Television. Mr. Buonemani collaborated with Los Angeles composer Morten Lauridsen in setting the organ version of Lux Aeterna and performed the world premiere with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in April, 1997 and helped inaugurate the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ with a performance of the work in 2004. He can also be heard in the premiere recording of this version of the work, among other works, in a 1998 CD release with the Donald Brinegar Singers.

He has appeared before regional and national conventions of the AGO, the American Choral Directors Association, the Association of Anglican Musicians, and the Organ Historical Society.

He has guest conducted on several occasions the William Ferris Chorale of Chicago and the Chicago Choral Artists.

Since 1995, James Buonemani has been Organist & Director of Music for St. James’ Church, Los Angeles, CA. Now in its second decade of concerts, the “International Laureates Organ Series” was founded by Buonemani in cooperation with the Ahmanson Foundation to provide the greater Los Angeles community the opportunity to hear world-class artists on the church’s magnificent pipe organ in seven free recitals annually. Under his direction, the Choir of Saint James’ has toured England three times. Prior to his position at St. James’, Buonemani was Organist & Director of Music for the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, DC, where he developed the church’s weekly Tuesday Afternoon Concert Series and launched the Epiphany Artists Series featuring full-length programs of drama, music and dance. In 1992, he founded and conducted "Musicians Against AIDS," a fund-raising event which featured musicians from the National Symphony and musical luminaries baritone John Shirley-Quirk and the American Boychoir.

In June of 2015, Mr. Buonemani conducted a choir of over 200 voices in Walt Disney Concert Hall marking the 150th anniversary of Episcopal Ministry in Southern California, at which time the Rt. Rev. Jon J. Bruno, Bishop Diocesan of Los Angeles, conferred on him the title Honorary Canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, acknowledging his extraordinary contributions to the musical life of the Episcopal Church.