Our Director

Buddy James’ passion for great music, travel, and the creation of interesting and meaningful ventures has led him to his current position of Professor of Music at California State University, East Bay, where he is Chair of the Department of Music, the Director of Vocal Studies, and was proud to serve as the Founding Director of the School of Arts and Media.

James’ career can be traced to an early love of music, from the pulsating Rock and Roll of his hometown Cleveland, Ohio to the nostalgic Country and Western music of his parent’s West Virginia. He traded his electric guitar for a baton after discovering the beauty and power of ensemble singing in his High School choir with Frank Bianchi and at the University of Akron while studying with Edward Maclary. The allure of California’s sun led him west to study at the University of California, Irvine with Joseph Huszti, who helped him secure both the prestigious UCI Chancellor’s Fellowship and his first faculty teaching positions at UCI and Whittier College.

Seeking to continue his studies toward a Doctorate, he became a protégé of William Dehning at the University of Southern California where he was challenged and inspired both musically and intellectually by his mentor and the institution.  During his time in Los Angeles he also studied with David Wilson, James Vail, and John Barnett, and he conducted the USC University Chorus, restarted a defunct USC Men’s Chorus, and was honored as the Outstanding Doctoral Graduate in the USC Department of Choral and Sacred Music.

Prior to coming to CSUEB he taught at many institutions, most notably at Millersville University of Pennsylvania where he was named “Person of the Year” in 2004. He has served many organizations such as the American Choral Directors Association and Intercollegiate Men’s Choruses, and is one of the founding officers of the National Collegiate Choral Organization. 

His move to California and subsequent travels through Europe as a singer and penniless student backpacker shaped his world views on art and human relations, and he has had the privilege of sharing his love for history, art, design, the ocean, and good food with his choirs during tours to Eastern and Western Europe, Mexico and Asia. His personal travels have taken him camel riding in the Gobi Desert, traversing glaciers in Patagonia, summiting the great Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, visiting monasteries in the Himalayas, exploring souks in Dubai, and shopping at Thailand’s night markets. James and his family have been blessed with the opportunity of enjoying extended stays studying culture and music in Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Bangkok, Tokyo, Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Currently he lives in Palo Alto with his wife Aileen and their two beautiful children, Emilia Rose and Lionel.