Since his arrival in The Netherlands in 2009, double bassist James Oesi has become a well known face in the classical and contemporary music world. As one of the few concentrating on the bass as a solo instrument, he has performed solo programmes (including works by Bach, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff, among others) in prominent venues such as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Utrecht’s TivoliVredenburg, The Oosterpoort in Groningen, Bach Festival Dordrecht, November Music, CrossLinx Festival and at festival Wonderfeel (where his concert was later named by Dutch National Public Radio 4 as one of the festival’s highlights).
James has appeared on numerous occasions on Dutch National Public Radio stations NPO 4 and NPO Radio 1 where he was also the subject of a radio documentary and has also had numerous appearances on Dutch National Television programmes Podium Witteman and Vrije Geluiden. Classic FM Uk featured James’ video of Luciano Berio’s Psy.
James is the founder and artistic leader of the Dutch Double Bass Festival, the first festival of it’s kind in the world, where James brought top international artists (such as John Patitucci and Edicson Ruiz) to the Netherlands and performed with Gary Carr. The festival had its first edition in May 2017 in The Hague.
Along side his solo activities, James is also an in-demand chamber musician and ensemble player and can be regularly seen as guest member of Asko|Schönberg, Insomnio, Oerknal, Ives Ensemble and Ensemble Modern. James is also the assistant of his former teacher Quirijn van Regteren Altena at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague.
June 2018, James joined the Asko|Shönberg ensemble to perform at the renowned National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa. In a review from the Business Day: “My favourite part of the show was undoubtedly James Oesi playing Tom Johnson’s Failing: a very difficult piece for solo string bass.”
For their recording, ‘Gyorgy Kurtag – Complete Works For Ensemble and Choir’ (ECM), James joined the Asko|Schönberg ensemble led by Reinbert de Leeuw. This recording was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium in November 2017.
At the beginning of 2016 James performed the soundtrack (written for him by Wilko Sterke) for the theater piece Waiting For the Barbarians (based on the novel by J.M. Coetzee) produced by Toneelschuur Haarlem, which toured the Netherlands.
In the summer of 2015 thanks to a generous grant from the Prins Bernard Cultuur Fonds, James was able to purchase a fine double bass made by Giuseppe Baldantoni in 1872. A grant from the Stichting Eigen Muziekinstrument made possible the purchase of a fine bow by Jürgen Krussig in 2016. James uses gut-core strings custom made by Gerold Genssler.
In May 2012 James graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, receiving a mark of 10 (out of 10) with distinction. Later on James was awarded the Fock Medaille for best solo exam of the year. James’s study was a first in that he was the first bassist to graduate from the Masters in Solo performance as a double bass player. For his Masters’ study James was awarded the prestigious Huygens Scholarship from the Netherlands and a grant from the countess of Munster Musical Trust in England.
James has performed in masterclasses by Leon Bosch (former principal bassist of the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields), Thomas Martin and Klaus Trumpf, and has been coached by Geoffrey Simon (conductor and producer), Gary Karr and Anner Bijlsma.
In 2009 an audition for the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation (now Arts Global Artistic Foundation) in Montreux led to James relocation to the Netherlands and allowed James to spend a summer with world-famous solo bassist, Gary Karr where James had the opportunity to perform with Gary Karr in concert.
In 2005, aged sixteen, James travelled from Johannesburg to Moscow to pursue studies at the acclaimed Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire under Lev Rakov. James was at the time the youngest student at the conservatoire and the only foreign double bassist. This study was made possible by the support of the Apollo Music Trust, and later also the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust and the National Arts Council of South Africa.
In 2005 and 2006 James was selected as one of two bassists, worldwide to attend the Perlman Music Program in New York. The programme, led by violinist Itzhak Perlman, his wife Toby Perlman and faculty from the Juilliard String faculty, gives a very select group of young musical talent intense training in solo and chamber playing.
James begun playing the double bass at the age of 12 in 2001 having previously played the piano and the violin.