Hotshots: Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor James Judd [New Miami magazine]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
New Miami magazine
Photo by Donna Victor
Design by Kevin Jolliffe
This article, part of our monthly Hotshots series, received a first place Charlie Award for Best Column from The Florida Magazine Association
JAMES JUDD HAD HIS WORK cutout for him when he took the job as music director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Florida in 1987. The company—formed only three years earlier when the Fort Lauderdale Symphony merged with the Boca Raton Orchestra—was on a shoestring budget of $600,000.
Since then, the amiable Englishman has given South Florida a cultural infusion through his work at the Philharmonic-and this year’s $5.8 million budget reflects the enthusiasm he has generated.
“He is a real asset to the community,” says Judy Drucker, president of the Concert Association of South Florida. “He is a complete and perfect gentleman. And besides, I really like his English accent.”
In addition to leading the 90-member orchestra through 40 concerts each year, each Monday night Judd hosts the Southeast Musical Feast, sponsored by Southeast Bank and broadcast by the Coconut Grove-based classical music radio station, WTMI.
“He [Judd] is an extraordinary individual and a true benefit to the orchestra,” says Alvis Sherouse, vice president of community relations at WTMI.
Born in a small village about 30 miles north of London, Judd began playing the piano when he was four years old. By the time he was 13 he was conducting the local orchestra. His conducting career spanned work with the European Community Youth Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Cleveland Orchestra. He has also recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra.
One of his pet projects is finding ways to make music a bigger part of the education system. “Music and literature should be as fundamental as math to a person’s education,” Judd says. “I think if everyone understood the humanity of the arts, we would have fewer problems in society.”