Mark Andrew James founded the Sussex Symphony Orchestra in 1993. He led us up until 2018 when he “retired” from the Orchestra – during that time he led us, with skill and charisma, through some of the greatest works in the orchestral and choral repertoire, including:

  • Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 2
  • Holst – The Planets
  • Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10
  • Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring
  • Beethoven – Symphony No. 9
  • Mahler – Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) and Symphony No. 5
  • Verdi – Requiem
  • Ravel – Daphnis and Chloe

You can hear some of these performances by clicking here.

We are delighted that Mark has returned to the SSO as Musical Director!

Mark Andrew James was born in Limassol, Cyprus and studied conducting and oboe at Trinity College London. He engaged in conducting master classes with some of the world’s greats, including Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta and Sir Charles Mackkeras, where was provided with the opportunity to work with the New York Philharmonic, Juilliard Symphony and Israel Philharmonic orchestras.

Whilst working in another profession travelling the world for many years, Mark used every opportunity to seek out opportunities to immerse himself in different cultures, styles and sounds all of which have gone on to color his approach to music and his interpretations for performance. It is this experience that makes him able to recognize that every ensemble, no matter how large or small, has their own unique personality and so approach to music which he is able to use to give very special performances which have been critically acclaimed.

Mark was invited to give concerts in Russia at Yaroslavl, Voronez, Samara and Krasnoyarsk, where he also took English music to the orchestras which they relished whilst he at the same time discovering the infinitesimal ‘something’ that Russian orchestras bring to their performances, enabling him to bring this expertise to his rostrum and his performances of Russian music have been described as extraordinary and inspiring.

Mark has received many awards, including from EMI for recording, The Railton prize for woodwind and was shortlisted for the Prudential Creative Briton Award.

Mark has been in several recording studios in London, working with many players from major orchestras, including the LSO, LPO, RPO, Academy of St. Martin in the fields and The Philharmonia in sessions for television and film.

Mark was the inspiration and mastermind behind the creation of workshops that have been taken into over twenty schools in the region, giving both children and students the opportunity to experience the joy of live music and bringing music to life, hopefully encouraging many to want to seek out and explore music further and maybe even take up an instrument.

Mark is a music director without compromise and his dedication to each and every performance is obvious to both orchestras and audiences alike. You can find out more about Mark at