James D. Hicks is a concert organist living and working out of Califon, NJ, USA. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Yale University, and the University of Cincinnati, Hicks has also studied at the Royal School of Church Music in the UK. James held liturgical positions throughout the USA over the course of thirty-five years and now devotes himself to concert, publishing, and recording projects.
Over the past fifteen years, James has researched the music of the Nordic lands and the result is an ongoing venture entitled Nordic Journey. The endeavor places emphasis on new music, he has commissioned over sixty compositions from Nordic composers, as well as researching repertoire from the past that has hitherto never been recorded or published. With the December 2023 release of Nordic Journey Volume XV, Baltic Sojourn, the series will now comprise twenty-four discs, all produced for the American label Pro Organo as well as being distributed by Naxos and the usual digital streaming platforms.
A parallel aspect of the Nordic Journey project is the production of hardbound editions that include premiere publications of many of the works James has commissioned as well as several previously unavailable compositions from earlier eras. The Norwegian firm Cantando released the Nordic Journey Series Volume I in 2018 (now available at www.musikkforlagene.no) and Norsk Musikforlag published The Nordic Journey Series Volume II in 2020 (www.musikkforlagene.no). Norsk Musikforlag has most recently produced the third volume in October 2022. A fourth volume of this series is set for a mid 2024 release. In addition, James has collaborated with the Finnish publisher, Edition Tilli (www.editiontilli.fi), in the production of premiere editions of Finnish and Baltic organ music.
Upcoming recording projects include the double-disc Nordic Journey XVI-North Atlantic Voyage, an August 2024 recording of music from Norway, mainland Scotland, the Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, Faroe, Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland. This endeavor will be produced in northern Norway at Bodø Cathedral. Jim will then travel to Germany and immediately record Nordic Journey Volume XVII-Germanic Connections, using once again the organ of Pauluskirche, Ulm.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, James wrote the first full-length book devoted to the complete works for organ by Norwegian composer Kjell Mørk Karlsen on the occasion of the artist’s seventy-fifth birthday. He also contributed a chapter to a study of the music of Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten. Norsk Musikforlag published the Karlsen book in March 2022 and the Sixten project will appear later in 2023.
In addition to his endeavors concerning the organ and its literature, James is an enthusiastic exponent of traditional music from the British Isles, performing on a number of instruments associated with these traditions. James is an avid hiker and has walked the historic Hadrian’s Wall trail in Northern England as well as traversing numerous sections of the Appalachian Trail in the USA.
To learn more about James D. Hicks, you are invited to visit his website at www.jamesdhicks.com.