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James Domine: Bio

Biography of James Elza Domine

James Elza Domine was born October 9, 1953 in Pasadena, California. At an early age he displayed a precocious interest in music, playing violin in the school orchestras and taking piano lessons. Domine began the formal study of composition and theory with Harold Victor Johnson at age 16.

Domine made his first serious compositional efforts in the form of three suites for solo guitar in E minor, D major and A minor. These suites were subsequently arranged as concerti for guitar and chamber orchestra, and form the point of departure for his repertoire both as performer and composer.

Domine entered UCLA in the Fall Quarter of 1971 where  he studied composition with Paul Chihara, Roy Travis and Roy Harris, among others. There he continued his study of the classical guitar repertoire with Theodore Norman and  played violin in the orchestra under conductors Mehli Mehta and Samuel Krachmalnick. He also performed with the A Cappella Choir under the direction of Roger Wagner.

Domine’s first public success as a composer came on May 10, 1977 when his Requiem conducted by Roger Wagner was received with a standing ovation by an enthusiastic capacity audience that filled Schoenberg Hall.

In 1979 Domine entered the University of Southern California where he earned his Masters Degree on a full scholarship. There he studied composition and theory with Ellis Kohs, Dorrance Stalvey and Leonard Stein. 

In this same year he founded the Van Nuys Civic Orchestra, a community-based group that eventually became the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. Today, the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra features a year-round concert series at Pierce College in Woodland Hills and plays a leading role in expanding the musical horizons of Southern California residents. As music director and conductor, Domine has led the orchestra in over a thousand concert performances.

In keeping with the time-honored tradition of classical musicians participating in the popular music arena, Domine plays lead guitar and writes songs for the Molay Band, the Symphomaniacs and the Screaming Clams. Music from these ensembles is featured on this web site.

The complete catalogue of James Domine's musical compositions include symphonies, concerti,  a ballet, an opera, chamber music, solo instrumental pieces and choral music in a wide variety of styles and genres.

Domine has written a novel entitled the Naked Man, published in 2006, a story of contemporary life in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. The book is currently available from on-line publisher LuLu.com and forms the basis for his musical theater play, Tomahawk that received its premiere at the Actors Forum Theater in North Hollywood, California in January 2008. His multi-faceted talents are also manifested in his seven epic poems, The Shadow Game, A Song of Summer, Nova Caligula: Idyll of the King, Abelard & Heloise, (a medieval romance), A Western Dream and Default Mode.

Domine currently teaches music at Pierce College in Woodland Hills California, where he has developed a dedicated cadre of symphony aficionados. He is currently working on completing the requirements for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University.