biography: James DeMars (b.1952)

Composer/conductor James DeMars belongs to a generation that is revealing a new integration of world music with the range, depth and stylistic variety of the classical tradition. 

His works include: 

  • Intercultural Concertos; orchestra with African Drum Ensemble, Black Lodge Pow-wow Singers, Native American flute 
  • Classical Concertos for  Violin, Piano, and Flute
  • Choral cantatas, and Song Cycles
  • An Opera and an Oratorio 
  • An American Requiem
  • Chamber Music 
  • Music for R. Carlos Nakai 
  • Music for Zeitgeist and TOS Ensembles

Ensembles that perform DeMars' music include:

The New York Choral Society, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, California Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta,  Tucson Symphony, Anchorage Symphony, Memphis Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony,  Choer et Orchestre Francais D'Oratorio (Paris), Wuppertal (Germany) Orchestra, St. Petersburg (Russia) Chamber Philharmonic, I Solisti di Zagreb (Croatia), Army Band of China (Beijing) and others. 

Commissions include:  NEA,  Heard Museum, Flynn Foundation, Art Renaissance Foundation, Phoenix Symphony, Canyon Records, European-American Foundation, Phoenix Boys Choir, I Solisti di Zagreb, and Arizona Commission on the Arts.


He is frequently involved in performances of his work as a conductor or pianist. These include the national premiere of his work, An American Requiem, at the Kennedy Center in Washington and nationally televised performances at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. In 1998 he conducted the European premiere of the requiem in Paris at Église La Trinité with Choer et Orchestre Francais D'Oratorio and was inducted to the French Order of Arts and Letters. He has conducted performances with the symphonies of Memphis, Utah, and Phoenix and served as pianist


With Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai he has created four CDs for Canyon Records. Two World Concerto received two Native American Music Awards and led to the 2008 release of DeMars' inter-cultural oratorio, GUADALUPE. In 2010 he received the Governor's Arizona Artist of the Year Award and in 2016 two Arizona Theater awards for best opera libretto and music.


Aesthetic influences include the writings of Joseph Campbell and Albert Camus. He holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota studying under Dominick Argento and is a professor at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Requiem rehearsals, Paris 1996

Requiem rehearsals, Paris 1996