James Waldo

James Waldo

Lecturer, Cello

Cellist James Waldo is a sought-after chamber musician and recitalist. A regular performer at Midsummer’s Music in Door County, WI, James has appeared in chamber music settings at such venues as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully and Merkin Halls at Lincoln Center, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, Music on the Fox, and the Grande Theatre in Harbin, China. Notable collaborations include performances with Sara Sant’Ambrosio, Anne-Marie McDermott, Monica Huggett, Ruth Cunningham, and the Ulysses String Quartet. James’ playing appears in the soundtrack for the feature film Uljhan/The Knot (2021, Winner – Asian Film Festival) and the experimental short film Burning Cathedrals (Official Selection – Cannes Short Film Festival, 2022). James has appeared as a concert soloist with the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra, the Chinese Ensemble of NY, Philomusica, and the UW Symphony Orchestra.

James received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from University of Wisconsin-Madison under the instruction of Uri Vardi, with additional studies in jazz (doctoral minor), musicology, and Russian language. James completed his Master of Music degree at Mannes School of Music, studying cello with Timothy Eddy, and chamber music with Mark Steinberg, Todd and Daniel Philips, Pavlina Dokovska, Laurie Smukler, Victor Rosenbaum, Jacob Lateiner, Martha MacGaughey, and Arthur Haas.

While living in New York City, James served as principal cellist for the Cecilia Chorus of NY from 2015-2019, and performed with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, the Princeton Symphony, Cantori NY, and the Chinese Ensemble of NY. James co-founded the Listen Closely Chamber Music Initiative of uptown Manhattan, a collective of locally based musicians performing concerts in the neighborhood’s local parks, libraries, museums, and churches. James toured nationally from 2008-2014 as founding cellist and arranger for the orchestral folk ensemble Spirits of the Red City, and has performed regularly with The Brilliance and jazz pianist and composer Robert Rodriguez.

Raised by two accomplished recorder players, James is an enthusiastic proponent of historical performance practices on cello and viola da gamba. James was founding member of LeStrange Viols, whose record “William Cranford Consort Music for 4, 5, and 6 Viols” (Olde Focus 2015) received “honorable mention” on Alex Ross’ list of 2015’s best recordings in The New Yorker. Other notable collaborations include performances with Pomerium, the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, the Salon/Sanctuary concert series, and the Madison Bach Musicians.  

James has served as a clinician and guest artist at Cornell College, Eastern Tennessee State University, Western Carolina University, Suffolk Community College, Hofstra University, SUNY-Potsdam, and the Juilliard School Evening Division. He teaches cello at the Madison Country Day School, and has run a small private cello studio continuously since the age of 17.

James and his pianist spouse Alyona A. Waldo have performed at numerous festivals and concert series together across the United States and China as the A.W.Duo. In 2015, the duo performed the complete cycle of works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven in New York City and Columbia, South Carolina. James enjoys time with his daughters Sofia and Masha, along with dog Remy and cat Eddy.