Chicago native, James Sanders began his studies at age six under the direction of Sister Imelda of the St. Benedict Order. During his senior year, James was both soloist and concertmaster with the Lane Tech High School Orchestra.
He also played with the Chicago Youth Symphony, where he was noticed for his talent and received an invitation from conductor Orcenith Smith to attend a private audition at DePauw University.
James was offered a full tuition honor performance award to attend DePauw. As an undergraduate, James was chosen to participate in the Spoleto Opera Festival, where he was appointed the position of principal second violin. He was also Concertmaster of the DePauw Symphony Orchestra for his junior and senior years.
After completing his undergraduate work, James attended the Yale University School of Music, where in 1989, he earned his Masters Degree in Violin Performance and was honored with the prestigious George Wellington Miles award. While at Yale, James was also a member of the New Haven Symphony. Upon graduation, he was offered the position of orchestra manager for the Yale Philharmonic. It was a very nice offer but, James preferred making his home in Chicago.
In addition to leading ensembles and performing solo, James is honored to regularly work with several high caliber orchestras in the Chicago area. They include: The Chicago Sinfonietta, Symphony II and The Ravinia Festival Orchestra. As a soloist and chamber musician, James is a willing collaborator at such venues as DePaul University, Harold Washington Library and Trinity College. In June of 1999 he performed with a string trio for President Clinton at the Chicago Historical Society, and he recently performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Chicago Northwest Symphony.
James Sanders has served as concertmaster for artists such as The Manhattan Transfer, Smokey Robinson, Roberta Flack and Orbert Davis. He has also performed on albums by Filter and the Smashing Pumpkins. Having established his own ability as an improviser, James was a founding member of The Third Coast String Quartet and later moved on to start his own group, The James Sanders Trio. Last year the group released its first CD Minstrels on the independent Amadeo label, making a significant contribution to the development and refinement of the Chicago Jazz Violin sound.
Having earned considerable experience as a leader and musical contractor specializing in chamber music and society violin ensembles, James Sanders provides music for major hotels, private clubs, and convention sites. Since 1993, he has also served as a musical contractor for the Harper College Community Choir, where he coordinates a full symphony for their biannual concerts.