James Murray III
Conductor / Music Director
The 2019-2020 season will mark Maestro Murray’s 23rd season as Music Director and Conductor of the Northland Symphony Orchestra. With Jim’s leadership, the dedication of the orchestra members and the hard work of the Board of Directors, the Northland Symphony Orchestra has become one to the most respected community orchestras in the area. The ensemble has developed a reputation for the consistent quality of their performances combined with innovative and unique programs. According to the Kansas City Star, Maestro Murray’s programming “betrays an inventive sense of fun”. In addition to featuring the music of standard composers, Jim has also included the music of Alwyn, Bantock, Bloch, Butterworth, Corigliano, Cowell, Cutcliffe, Fine, Finzi, Hovhaness, Ives, Khachaturian, Mobberley, Moncayo and Turina, among others.
Recently featured as a Mover, Shaker and Stalwart by KCMetropolis.org, Maestro Murray is also the Music Director & Conductor of the Heritage Philharmonic (formerly the Independence Symphony) as well as the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Kansas City, an ensemble that he helped to found. He is also in frequent demand as a guest conductor and clinician with many area ensembles.
Jim had just began studying conducting, when, as a member of the Rome Festival Orchestra, he stepped in to lead a rehearsal for the conductor who was delayed. When the conductor arrived, he allowed Jim to finish that rehearsal and then invited him to conduct two pieces, Copland’s Quiet City and Gounod’s Petite Symphonie, on a concert the following week. Jim’s formal training includes a Bachelors Degree in Music Performance from William Jewell College, where he studied with Dr. Phillip C. Posey and a Masters Degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Denver, where he studied with Dr. Horst Buchholz.
Jim’s passion for music is equaled by his passion for teaching. Off the podium, he is the Music Coordinator and Instructor of Music at Metropolitan Community College—Maple Woods. In 2009 Jim was one of eighteen educators to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Outside the classroom and concert hall, Jim and his wife, soprano soloist and choral conductor, Nicole Murray, pursue the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world. At the start of this orchestral season, Jim and Nicole have ridden more than 400 different roller coasters. They both continue to rate Millennium Force at Cedar Point as their favorite coaster.