Queen's Diamond Jubilee / Party In The Palace
Working with the BBC and Gary Barlow in 2012, James masterminded and conducted the biggest and most prestigious musical event in Britain – the Diamond Jubilee concert celebrating the 60 year reign of Her Majesty the Queen.
The star-studded event – set against the spectacular backdrop of Buckingham Palace – featured a variety of creatively re-imagined performances from the world’s biggest names in popular music. For superstar Robbie Williams, James conducted a colossal 60-piece brass section and 17 percussionists, made up from the massed bands of the Royal Household Regiments. Jubilee Concert organiser Gary Barlow took to the stage with a 30-person African children’s choir, the chart-topping 80-strong Military Wives’ choir with Gareth Malone, Andrew Lloyd Webber, a variety of ethnic instrumentalists from the Commonwealth, and the 70-piece BBC Symphony Orchestra, which James conducted. Ska band Madness delivered a momentous performance from the palace roof, whilst pop princess Kylie delighted fans around the world at nightfall with an eight-minute medley of disco pop decadence. James orchestrated a brand new arrangement of U2′s modern classic ‘Beautiful Day’ which was set against the backdrop of a montage of the Queen’s 60-year reign, as well as a specially re-vamped orchestral version of ‘There Must Be An Angel’ for Annie Lennox, which saw him donning a pair of angel wings as he was conducing the orchestra! Other event highlights included performances by Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Jessie J, Grace Jones, Cheryl Cole and Paul McCartney, amongst others.
The once-in-a-lifetime event received widespread acclaim, with viewing figures in the UK alone hitting 17 million, marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert as a monumental milestone on the musical map of Great Britain.
James’ prestigious Diamond Jubilee collaboration followed on from the 2002 BBC ‘Party in the Palace’, where he served as Assistant Musical Director as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The historic event, which was watched by 200 million worldwide, featured the iconic Brian May guitar solo performance of ‘God Save the Queen’ on the roof of Buckingham Palace, with support from the orchestra onstage in the garden below.