Choir Director James Sullivan
Staff > James Sullivan
We are truly fortunate to have James Sullivan as our choir director since 2013. His love for choir directing came early in life when he was unexpectedly given the choir directing position at his home church in north Georgia as a freshman in college. James instantly fell in love with choir directing and went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Georgia.
After graduation, James taught elementary school music for one year and the following year was appointed to the position of Director of Choral Activities at Buford High School in north Atlanta. During these two years of teaching, James also sang with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and had the opportunity to work closely with Robert Shaw. He sang on many recordings with Shaw and also played oboe on Shaw’s well-known recording of Bach’s B Minor Mass.
As oboe playing has always been an integral part of James’s life, he chose to pursue a master’s degree at Boston University the following two years, studying with the renowned oboist Ralph Gomberg. Additional studies with John Mack of the Cleveland Orchestra and three years as a freelance oboist in the Atlanta area followed. During this time he was principal oboe of the Atlanta Opera Orchestra as well as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. In 1997, he won the position of Principal Oboe of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and has enjoyed living and performing in Birmingham ever since! James maintains an active private oboe studio and is Oboe Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University, and Birmingham-Southern College. He initiated and is a co-founder of Southern Oboe Intensive. He’s also on the board of directors for EnvisionOboe, a non-profit organization that provides financial support for oboe students, so that they can further their music education through specialty classes, workshops or other unique learning opportunities.
Four years ago, the opportunity arose for James to combine his two loves again when he became Choir Director of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham. During the summers, he continues graduate study in choral conducting at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. He also completed the competitive requirements at The Choral Institute at Oxford in Oxford, England, during the summer of 2015.