James Reynolds

© Rosa-Frank.com


Born in California, James Reynolds currently lives in Berlin. He studied contemporary music with John Adams, as well as percussion at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and composition in Cologne under Michael von Biel. Reynolds was Composer in Residence at the Laurenz-Haus Foundation Basel (2004) and Visiting Artist at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2009).

After teaching Master classes at the Folkwang University for the Arts in Essen and playing percussion on and off-Broadway (and as band member of The Units) in the 80s in New York, Reynolds took up his long-term working relationship with the Cologne based broadcasting institution WDR. For over two decades, he has written music for literary productions, thrillers, fairytales, and children’s radio plays for the broadcaster. 

Reynolds’ compositions explore the combination of words, sounds, and images – in film music as well as in his work for theatre. In 2002 he composed the music for the melodrama Vergeltung, a commissioned work from the WDR in partnership with the author Christoph Klimke, with whom Reynolds later worked on the Johann Kresnik directed plays Felix Nussbaum (Theater Osnabrück, 2010) and Fürst Pücklers Utopia (Staatstheater Cottbus, 2010). His collaboration with Johann Kresnik began in 2007 when the director adapted Kafka’s Amerika for the stage, followed by Maestro, based on the life of Herbert von Karajan (Landestheater Salzburg).

His work for stage also includes the highly praised piece The Mousewedding, which was played in repertory at the Children’s Opera of Cologne and in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall as well as his compositions for Pavel Mikulastik and his Choreographic Theatre. Reynolds wrote the music for Mikulastik’s dance theatre productions Tanz-Marathon (2001) and Gilgamesch (2002) and for his musical Rats (2003). Further compositions for dance include a ballet by the Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble, commissioned by the Käthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne with a premiere at the Bundeskunsthalle Bonn and a work by Lutz Gregor performed at Tanzhaus NRW.

In the field of film music, Reynolds has set Lutz Gregor’s ARTE-productions Verborgenes Venedig (2012), Das Land der Dogon (2011) and Akte Theo: Ungelöst (2010) to music. Moreover, he has written the scores to several episodes of the ARTE documentary series Auf Expeditionsreise as well as for numerous films of Christel Fomm, of which the most recent one The Vietnam War – Faces of a Tragedy was awarded with the Gold World Medal at the New York Festivals 2016.

Reynolds’ latest works for the stage include the piece Tucholskys Spiegel (world premiere in summer 2017 at Schlosstheater Rheinsberg) as well as the highly praised opera Ghost Knight (Geisterritter), based on the novel by Cornelia Funke. After successful film and theatre adaptions, Ghost Knight is the first book of the internationally known writer to be adapted for an opera. The world premiere took place in December 2017 at the Opera Bonn with a resumption in autumn 2019 at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg. In the fall of 2019, James Reynold’s melodrama POE! – Dreamworlds was premiered to critical acclaim at Stadttheater Bremerhaven with the Philharmonic Orchestra Bremerhaven and Christian Brückner - Robert de Niro’s German voice - as speaker.


Geliebte Feinde, 2014
Episodes 3-5-8-9 DVD


Prinz gefällig? – Schräges aus der Märchenwelt, 2009

Die Hose des Teufels, 2006
Random House

König Artus und die Ritter der Tafelrunde, 2005
Der Hörverlag

Julie von den Wölfen, 2004

Jesus von Texas, 2004

Salammbô, 2004
Der Audio-Verlag

Honig von Suleikas Lippen – Erotische Märchen aus 1001 Nacht, 2004
WWF / Random House

Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray, 2004

Die Räuber vom Liang Schan Moor, 2003

Plattform (Michel Houellebecq), 2003
Der Audio Verlag GmbH / WDR

Das wundersame Kästchen, 2003
WWF / Random House

Die Abenteuer und Irrfahrten des Odysseus, 2003

Moses und die Wüste der Wunder, 2003

In 40 Märchen um die Welt, 2002
WWF / Random House

Die letzte Reise der Titanic, 2000

Die Insel der blauen Delfine, 2000
also in: Klassiker aus der Kiste, 2010

Frau Meier, die Amsel – Das Bärenwunder – Leonard (Wolf Erlbruch), 2000

Concert/ Stage

POE! - Dreamworlds, 2019
World Premiere November 25, 2019, Stadttheater Bremerhaven

Tucholskys Spiegel, 2016
Chamber Opera Festival Rheinsberg
World Premiere July 21, 2017, Schlosstheater Rheinsberg

Ghost Knight an opera thriller, 2014/15
Published by Boosey & Hawkes
World Premiere December 3, 2017, Opera Bonn

A Throw of the dice will never abolish chance, 2015
Commissioned work from the Sydney Conservatory of Music
World Premiere September 5, 2017 Sydney Conservatory

Das Moses-Jahwe-Projekt für Sopran, Orchester, Chor und Sprecher, 2005
WDR Köln/KvB-Saal
Regie: Uwe Schareck

Vergeltung, 2002
Loft Köln/WDR

Die Prozedur, 2002
Loft Köln/WDR

Fantasy1 for Viola d’amore, Cello and Percussion, 1990
Viola d’amore Society New York



Der Schatz von Timbuktu - eine Rettungsgeschichte, 2016
Directed by Lutz Gregor

Der Vietnam Krieg: Gesichter einer Tragödie, 2015
Directed by Christel Fomm
Gold World Medal, New York Festivals 2016

Frauen und Ozeane (music for 4 films of the ARTE series), 2015
Directed by Aexandra Sorgenicht

Lesch Kosmos: Machtfaktor Erdgas, 2014
Directed by Eva Schöttendrier

Geliebte Feinde (Folge 3) - Macht und Glaube, 2013
Directed by Martin Caradzo Mendez

Geliebte Feinde (Folge 5) - Auf die Barrikaden, 2013
Directed by Christel Fomm

Geliebte Feinde (Folge 8) - Krieg und Frieden, 2013
Directed by Christel Fomm

Geliebte Feinde (Folge 9) - Welt in Flammen, 2013
Directed by Christel Fomm

Auf Expeditionsreise nach Madagaskar, 2013
Directed by Corinna Wirth

Auf Expeditionsreise durch Australien, 2013

Directed by Claudia Ruby

Auf Expeditionsreise durch Tansania, 2013
Directed by Corinna Wirth

Auf Expeditionsreise an die Küste Costa Ricas, 2013
Directed by Claudia Ruby

Verborgenes Venedig (Teil I - III), 2012
Directed by Lutz Gregor

Maps of Emotion 2, 2012
Directed by Lutz Gregor

Das Land der Dogon, 2011
Directed by Lutz Gregor

Opfer und Verführer, 2011
Directed by Stephan Schneider

Wohin treibt der Islam (Teil I - II), 2010
Directed by Friedel Klutsch

Akte Theo: Ungelöst - Eine Baseler Spurensuche, 2010
Directed by Lutz Gregor

Chaim, 2005
Directed by Jonathan Greenfield

Federalist / Anti-Federalist, 2005
Directed by Jennifer Nelson


Sammlung Prinzhorn, 2012
Theater Heidelberg
Director: Johann Kresnik

Über das Marionettentheater, 2011
Accor Festival for Alternative Theatre, Israel
Director: Henriette Cepak

Fürst Pücklers Utopia, 2010
Staatstheater Cottbus
Director: Johann Kresnik

Felix Nussbaum, 2010
Stadttheater Osnabrück
Director: Johann Kresnik

Die Bibel als Theater, 2009
Stadttheater Bern
Jewish Museum New York
Accor Festival für Alternatives Theater, Israel
Director: Shimon Levy

Maestro, 2008
Salzburger Landestheater
Director: Johann Kresnik

Amerika, 2007
Bremer Theater
Director: Johann Kresnik

RATS, 2003
Choreographisches Theater
Opera Bonn
Director: Pavel Mikulastik

Der Absolute Klang des Punktes, 2003
Bauhaus Dessau
Director: Lena Lukjanova

Meines Herzens Wolfsgesang, 2002
Bauturm-Theater Cologne
Director: Claudia Holzapfel

Tanzmarathon, 2001
Choreographisches Theater
Opera Bonn
Director: Pavel Mikulastik

Tanz oder Stirb, 1999
Rose-Theegarten-Ensemble Cologne
Director: Thomas Wenzel

Die Mäusehochzeit w/ Michael Villmow, 1998
Cologne Opera
Philharmonie Cologne

Radio Plays

Der Untergang Jerusalems, 2010

Gast-Spiele, 2008
WDR, Funkhaus Europa

Ente, Tod und Tulpe, 2007

Narrenteufel, 2006

Aladin, 2006

Gilgamesch, 2005

Moses, 2003

Salammbô, 2003

Ein Job, 2002

Lügen im Dunkeln, 2002

Die Räuber von Liang Schan Moor, 2002

Als das Wünschen noch geholfen hat, 2001

Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker, 2001

Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray, 2000

Die Prozedur, 2000

Die letzte Reise der Titanic, 1999

Odysseus, 1998


Presence of an absence, 2013
Tanzhaus Düsseldorf

da...zwischen, 2005
Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble
Basel, Zurich, Galway

Gilgamesch, 2002
Oper Bonn
Director: Pavel Mikulastik

Töchter, 1995
Cathy Sharp Dance Ensemble
American Music Week Bonn
Cologne, Zurich, Basel

© Illustration Friedrich Hechelmann, from: Cornelia Funke, Die Geisterritter, Dressler Verlag, Hamburg 2011


Ghost Knight

Music: James Reynolds
Libretto: Christoph Klimke

based on the novel by Cornelia Funke

James Reynolds composed an opera titled Ghost Knight (Geisterritter) based on the novel by the German writer Cornelia Funke. After successful film and theatre adaptions, Ghost Knight is the first book of the internationally known writer to be adapted for an opera.

Ghost Knight is being published by Boosey&Hawkes and had its World Premiere at the Opera Bonn on December 3, 2017, followed by performances in Dortmund and at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein Düsseldorf Duisburg.

Dates in 2019: June 19 - July 10, 2019 (Theater Duisburg)


Tucholsky's Mirror

Music: James Reynolds
Libretto: Christoph Klimke

The personality and works of Kurt Tucholsky serve as the starting point for an opera at the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg about this prophetic writer and scathing critic – the poet/playboy who spent an amorous weekend in Rheinsberg in 1912, immortalised in his “Storybook for Lovers”. As the publisher of Weltbühne, Kurt Tucholsky’s texts were as multifaceted and varied as the pseudonyms he used – such as Benno Büffel and Ignaz Wrobel. Tucholsky’s writings oscillated between emotionality and keen intellect, between humour and despair at the political developments in the Weimar Republic. In 1929, he moved to Sweden where he remained permanently. In 1933, the National Socialists banned Weltbühne and revoked the Jewish émigré’s citizenship. In their contemporary opera, the writer Christoph Klimke and composer James Reynolds focus on Kurt Tucholsky and four of his alter egos: Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger, Kaspar Hauser and Ignaz Wrobel. Like the writer Tucholsky, who very much aimed to entertain readers with his texts, the Tucholsky opera makes no distinction between “entertainment” and “serious music” as is the convention, and reflects on the facets of Tucholsky’s personality in a variety of musical styles. Accordingly, the orchestra is comprised of an equally multifaceted complement, including a string ensemble, jazz combo, woodwinds, brass and percussion.

The world premiere of the opera took place on July 21 at Schlosstheater Rheinsberg.

Further Dates:
July 22, 25, 26, 28, 29