Professor of Music Performance
James Caton Helton maintains an active schedule as a soloist, a collaborative performer and as an adjudicator and teacher of master classes. He has performed throughout most of the United States and in the Czech Republic, Spain, and Thailand. He has had the pleasure of working with Pulitzer Prize winning composers George Crumb, William Bolcom, Lucas Foss and Joseph Schwantner in concerts broadcast over public radio and television.
For New World Records, Helton appeared with the Blair Woodwind Quintet on works by composer Michael Kurek (CD 80497-2), a disc that achieved a place on the short list of Grammy nominations for its category in 1996. AUR released Sky Scrapings, music of Don Freund, on which Helton collaborated with saxophonist John Sampen at the invitation of the composer. Two CD’s with Chinese soprano Mei Zhong include Chinese Art Songs for Leyerle Publications and, for North Pacific Records, The Silvered Lute, containing twentieth and twenty-first century song cycles by both Chinese and Western composers. An additional honor with Zhong was the world premiere performance of the cycle by Paul SanGregory [sic], Songs of Distance, at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Winter Workshop in San Diego, CA. Dr. Helton’s most recent publication is for Navona Records: a collaboration with violinist Mary Kothman of Amelia Kaplan’s Insolence. Other artistic pursuits include the solo piano music of Central Europe, Scandinavia, and England, focusing currently on the solo piano music of pianist/composer York Bowen.
James Helton is Professor of Music Performance at Ball State University, where he teaches piano and chamber music and coordinates accompanying activities. He recently completed two terms as Coordinator of the Performance Area. Prior academic appointments include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Visiting Lecturer, 1998-2000) and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, (Artist Teacher of Piano, 1993-1998). He is quite active in the Music Teachers National Association, having served as the Chairperson of Performance Competitions for the East Central Division.
Helton earned the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Literature (cognates in musicology and piano pedagogy) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His principal teachers were Ian Hobson and Janice Hodges. He has performed in master classes of John Browning, John Perry, Ursula Oppens, Richard and John Contiguglia, Maurice Hinson, and Bela Siki, among others.