Jim Raycroft Music

Jim Raycroft, Conductor

I studied with two superb instructors who both taught me the same three rules:

  1. Keep the rehearsal fast.
  2. Keep the rehearsal enjoyable as well as productive.
  3. The hands are the key.

The first two are self-explanatory.

For the third, I was shown that the hands -- as Leopold Stokowski knew -- are the best tool for conducting, but require a lot more technical discipline.

With the hands, in addition to the tempos and dynamics, the performers can be shown the shape of the phrase and, for singers, the turning of the words in phrase endings. When I conduct, I reach for the soul of the music, the passion, the fire.

For the performers, this always produces the most satisfying results, as nothing fulfills the soul more than a passionate performance.

The Key to Conducting Any Group

When working with volunteers (in churches, schools or wherever I happen to be), the greatest moment for me is when the light bulb goes on -- when the musician thinks or says, "I get it!". The mission has been accomplished: we've achieved more than just notes, we've achieved music.

When working with professionals, the key is to develop a rapport and sense of teamwork as quickly as possible and to inspire that fire and passion that all too often can get left behind in the rush to produce as much music as possible in as little time as possible.

The three photos to right show me conducting the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Testimonial - Bob Ralston, Pianist/Organist, The Lawrence Welk TV Show

"Jim Raycroft is an amazing musician. I'm convinced he possesses an in-depth knowledge of every performance style that has ever existed. He always knows exactly how the music should sound, and he is skillful in communicating this to his singers and orchestras."

"Jim is a perfectionist in the best sense of the word. His conducting artistry makes everything crystal clear; nothing is left to chance. You might think that this could lead to long and tedious rehearsals. Not so! Jim keeps things moving (in a most enjoyable way). He maintains focus, and he never wastes time in over-rehearsing."

"In addition to Jim’s flawless sense of rhythm, his classical training is especially apparent in his beautiful rubatos. Accelerandos and ritardandos are gloriously magnificent…never understated or overstated—always "just right."

"There are many more compliments I could offer about Jim Raycroft’s consummate musicianship. But I’ll only mention one more: he knows when to be in control and when to let go. As an accompanist to some of America’s most beloved singers (Nat "King" Cole, Eddie Fisher, Jerome Hines, Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae, and many others), I deeply, deeply appreciate it when a conductor stops conducting and gives me the freedom to collaborate intimately with the vocalist. At such times, a truly great director such as Jim Raycroft will step back and become an accompanist himself, merely holding the orchestra and chorus together as a background to what’s happening downstage. Kudos to you, Jim!"