Highly regarded as one of Canada’s most prominent oboists, James Mason is the Principal Oboe of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Canadian Chamber Ensemble. He came to Canada in 1975, accepting the Principal Oboe position with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, moving to Kitchener in 1979. He has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher in Germany, Holland, Spain, South America and Japan as well as the United States and Canada. He has appeared as soloist with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Association a total of 70 times, more than any other musician.
When Canada had a national radio company that actually cared about classical music, Jim was regularly recorded for live broadcast. He has been recorded as a soloist with the KWS a total of 7 times and has recorded most of the standard chamber music and solo oboe repertoire, along with several new works for oboe and orchestra written specifically for him. In January of 2009 the Gallery Players of Niagara released a CD of works for oboe and strings commissioned for and recorded with Jim, entitled Canadian Oboe Quartets.
In the summer months, Jim is active in festivals across North America. He performs regularly in the Elora Festival and Festival of the Sound. Jim and his wife, violinist Julie Baumgartel, were founding Co-Artistic Directors of the Grand River Baroque Festival. For 5 years he taught and performed in the Orford Summer Festival and has been invited to teach at Canada’s National Youth Orchestra and Banff Summer Festival. He has also appeared as guest Principal Oboe with the Boston Symphony, Toronto Symphony and Montreal Symphony Orchestras, along with the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Jim is on the faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University. A dedicated teacher, in May of 2009 he was the recipient of the WLU Alumni Association’s Faculty Mentor of the Year Award. Jim’s former students started a scholarship fund at WLU in his honor, the James Mason Oboe Scholarship. His students are active in orchestras and musical organizations across the US and Canada as both performers and administrators.
In 1999 Jim Mason was awarded the Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Award for Music. He performs on a Yamaha oboe and is a Yamaha Artist.