James Cave
b.1979, Cambridge, England

James Cave is a composer and singer with a particular interest in collaborative practice. During his residency at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios he will be working on a new composition titled Returns, an opera in one act which is based on the play by Joshua Casteel.

Casteel (1979-2012) was an Iraq veteran turned peace campaigner and playwright. At aged 27 he died of multiple cancers contracted as part of the cleansing procedures involving contaminated material facing the army in Iraq. His work attracted widespread attention, including a performance at the Royal Court, London for Human Rights Watch. It was also seen at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and Princeton University.

Returns, directed by the Mahler & LeWitt Studios Artistic Advisor David Gothard, is based on Casteel’s own experience of post-traumatic stress and revolves around the struggle of James (baritone) to organise his memories into a coherent narrative. The other characters in the opera each represent aspects of James’ fragmented consciousness. In a 20-minute extract from Returns, premiered at Rough for Opera 13 (York, UK), Cave combined Indian tala rhythms with a taut operatic language to dramatise the narrative.

Cave was recently the recipient of a Terry Holmes Award and a Sir Jack Lyons Celebration Award for Composition. In 2015 he was Composer-in-Residence at the Banff Centre (Banff, Canada) and participated in the inaugural World Music Residency in Eastern Traditions. He is a permanent member of York Minster Choir and a member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble with whom he has performed internationally. Most recently he performed Beckett’s Songbook with the ensemble at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, as part of Sean Doran and Adrian Dunbar’s ‘Happy Days Festival’.

Recent compositions include Latrabjarg, commissioned by the York Spring Festival of New Music, in which Cave worked with an electric cellist and soundscape artist to weave together saga texts, bird-calls and folksong to evoke the disintegration of Iceland’s ecosystem. Fothcoming works include  Eonsounds, a collaborative project exploring the links between music and geology, with geologist Dr Tim Ivanic and spatial sound-researcher Dr Jude Brereton.