James Avery, RIP

It was several days ago that I heard the very sad news that James Avery, conductor, pianist and founder of Ensemble SurPlus, has died. I only had a passing acquaintance with him as a writer, but by all accounts he was a unique champion of new music. I’ve still not seen any English-language obituaries (shame), but here’s one in the Badische Zeitung.

Avery can be heard most recently on Mathias Spahlinger’s farben der fruhe (Neos).

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9 comments

  1. I never met James Avery but from the distance of Australia have always admired his work and only ever heard wonderful stories of him from colleagues in common. He had an amazing ability to create a public platform for composers whose work can be extraordinarily challenging and not easily accommodated in the standard rehearsal routines of the larger performing institutions. I think he and this generosity of approach will be sorely missed in European contemporary music circles.

  2. Speaking of June in Buffalo … I remember after a particularly impressive concert of student works at JIB, I commented to Jim that I was always really impressed w/ how seriously SurPlus took student pieces. He said, ‘oh, we don’t think of them as student pieces. They’re just pieces. Our job is to play them as well as we can’.

    His role in supporting young composers (JIB, Schloss Solitude, various university residencies, etc.) made a rather significant impact on the field, I think.

  3. James was a wonderful musician, and a great colleague. I’m currently at work getting a performance ready that was probably among his last recordings- conducting Heinz Holliger and a terrific bunch of young German musicians in Ursula Mamlok’s Oboe Concerto. His passionate collaboration and devotion to the highest standards of performance will be missed.

  4. Today, April 4, I heard of James Avery’s passing. It is a very sad day, I am in total shock. He was one of the best human beings I had met and what a great musician. It was a real gift to have known him and I will always be thankful to have heard him play. We all will miss him terribly. And I am sorry that I did not know about his illness. His time here in Buffalo was a gift to many of his friends . My love to Eun Ju.

    • I just read of Jim’s death through this website and you happened to mention Eun Ju. I have lost track of her and wonder if you can tell me how to reach her.

      I was married to Jim’s brother for 17 years, and Eun Ju and Thomas were in our home many times during their visits to the United States.

      If you can help me find her, I would appreciate it. Thank you!

  5. I only heard of Jim’s death yesterday and I’m feeling tremendously sad that he is not able to bring his fantastic musicianship and warmth to further music making. It was a real privilege to have known and worked with him.

  6. Today, I have heard that Prof.James Avery passed away. I am feeling very sad, and could not believe that this is true.
    I had an opportunity to study with him for one semester in Frieburg Music Conservatory. He was a great teacher, and musician.
    I will always remember him.

  7. In the process of checking out the links to my obituary of Henri Pousseur for the Guardian, I have just learned here with profound shock and sadness of the death of James Avery, a dear friend with whom I worked for years at Darmstadt and with whom I was in touch by email only a few months ago. Yet another fine musician and equally fine man who can never be replaced.


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