Preview/interview: James Grace – Music from Spain – at the Cape Town Concert Series, May 14 2022

James Grace- Music from Spainpresented by the Cape Town Concert Series

When, where and time: May 14, 2022, Baxter Concert Hall, at 11am

Programme: James Grace will perform music from his seventh solo studio album, the SAMA-winning album, Andaluza – Music of Spain III
Tickets: R200, and R160 for seniors. Students pay R80
Bookings: Webtickets – 
Duration: One hour recital – followed by question time with James Grace

More information: e-mail: 

Exciting news is that internationally acclaimed classical guitarist, James Grace is up on stage at the next Cape Town Concert Series, on May 14, 2022, in the Baxter Concert Hall. The hour long recital – James Grace- Music from Spain -starts at 11am. Afterwards, the convivial Grace will talk about his music and take questions from the audience about the concert and his work in general.  It is a wonderful opportunity to interact with this virtuoso guitarist who is unerringly modest about his work and achievements. I have interviewed Grace on numerous times, before TheCapeRobyn website was in existence and am taking the opportunity to share extracts from previous interviews, to give insights into this versatile artist. His extraordinary repertoire includes classical and Spanish music and his own arrangements of The Beatles, John Denver and Billy Joel (see his album, Chilled). In tandem with his career as a performing and recording artist, Grace mentors emerging creatives. He heads up the classical guitar department at the SACM (South African College of Music) at UCT. First let us look at the recital on May 14, 2022, for the Cape Town Concert Series and then read on for more about this innovative creative who mashes up multiple genres and works extensively in theatre, collaborating across disciplines:

James Grace – programme – Cape Town Concert Series – May 14, 2022 at 11am

James Grace will perform music from his seventh solo studio album, the SAMA-winning album, Andaluza – Music of Spain III. (The SAMAs are the South African Music Awards). The album (released September 2017), includes music by Granados, Sainz de la Maza, Pujol, Rodrigo and Turina and works by other composers such as Albéniz and Tárrega. The album may be purchased here: Get to the Baxter and be enthralled by this captivating artist, playing the music live and then purchase the album.

James Grace- his journey – from Kent to Cape Town

Grace has appeared with all the major South African orchestras and has performed at the National Arts Festival. His concert schedule frequently takes him throughout Southern Africa, Europe and the UAE- well that was before the pandemic – but touring is beginning again. He is very much an international creative – professionally and personally. Grace was born in Kent in the UK. His family migrated to SA, when he was ten and he went to school in Cape Town, in Durbanville.  What brought them here? His father had played soccer in SA and liked the country so they upped from the cold and migrated to a warmer climate.

The return to the UK and then back to South Africa

Grace’s family returned to the UK when he was 15. After completing his schooling, he studied at the Royal College of Music in London. He became the first guitarist in the history of the College to receive the Tagore Gold Medal- an annual award presented to the most outstanding student. After spending two years in Doha, Qatar where he taught guitar at an international music centre, he returned to South Africa and was appointed Head of Classical Guitar Studies at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. That was in 2005.

Communicating and connecting on a human level with other human beings

With Europe at his feet, one may wonder why James Grace elected to live in the Cape: “Cape Town was always my home and at least twice a year during my college career [Royal College of Music in London], I’d come back and always tried to squeeze in a few concerts, during each trip. I realised that I wanted to eventually settle in SA.  I could do what I was doing in London – here in Cape Town. Lifestyle-wise there’s no comparison between Cape Town and London. Whether you’re performing at St John’s Smith Square in London or the Drostdy Museum in Swellendam, you’re still performing: communicating and connecting on a human level with other human beings. And that, for me, is really what it’s all about.”

Acclaim as a very young musician

Something of a child prodigy, when he was the age of 13, at school in Durbanville, Grace won the Sanlam Music Competition for primary school pupils-the first guitarist to win:  I’m still very proud of that. But, I wouldn’t describe myself as a child prodigy. Mozart was a child prodigy.  I was just someone who started with something at a relatively early age and stuck with it. I was fortunate to have the support of my parents and privileged to have been well taught, initially by Dietrich Wagner in the Cape and subsequently by Carlos Bonell at the Royal College.”

Entrepreneur and promoter

As an entrepreneur and concert promoter, Grace hosts and collaborates with visiting artists. For instance in 2018, he organized a nationwide tour with Mexican guitarist Morgan Szymanksi and performed with him – as a duo. The year after that (2019), and the duo toured Mexico. Then in 2020, came the pandemic and most live performance came to a halt but the music on the street is that James Grace has exciting projects in development. He operates his own record label, Stringwise Records and is very much in control of how he puts out his music. A humble man, he does not grandstand about his illustrious career- starting off as what I term, a child prodigy. The focus is on his craft; as lecturer at the SACM and his work in mentoring young musicians and assisting in any way he can – advising students who are purchasing instruments (not cheap), advice in applying for grants and study opportunities abroad- any aspect of “professional working life as a musician.”

James Grace -awards

Andaluza – Music of Spain III (2017) won a SAMA (South African Music Award). His 2017 album, Chilled was nominated for a SAMA. The fabulous Chilled, features for the most part his own arrangements of songs by artists and groups, such as The Beatles, John Denver and Billy Joel.  Two of his CDs –Sevilla – Music of Spain II and Café Latino– topped the Classic FM Top 20 South African Charts. These CDs nabbed SAMA nominations for Best Popular Classical Album (Sevilla – Music of Spain II)and Best Instrumental Album (Café Latino). His albums are produced under the banner of his independently owned and operated record label, Stringwise Records.

Versatile: Classical guitarist, James Grace, moves seamlessly between multiple genres. He will be on stage at the next Cape Town Concert Series, with Music from Spain, on May 14, 2022, in the Baxter Concert Hall. Bookings: Webtickets – 

James Grace


✳ Images supplied.