Born in Australia in 1968, James Munro studied double bass at the Conservatorium of Sydney. In 1988 he was awarded a scholarship to follow intense studies in London with Thomas Martin, after which he returned to Sydney to complete his Bachelor of Music degree. On graduating in 1989 with the highest “Cum Laude” distinction, he was invited to perform the Vanhal solo concerto with orchestra. Before leaving Australia in 1990 he had already performed regularly with the major symphony orchestras of the country and was principal double bass of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, touring throughout Australia and South America.

Whilst still in Australia he had alraedy expressed a keen interest in early music and historical performance practice, exploring the music from the 16th to the 18th centuries through the studying of and performing on the historical bass instruments of this era - the viola da gamba, violone and baroque double bass.

His fervent desire to expand his musical perspectives and in particular his passion for early music brought him to Holland in 1990 where he continued his post-graduate studies on both modern double bass and violone at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. His acquaintance there with the violinist Sigiswald Kuijken lead to a fruitful 10-year collaboration as principal double bass of his orchestra, La Petite Bande, with whom he was to perform as chamber musician with Gustav Leonhardt, amongst others, and as soloist together with Sigiswald Kuijken in a double concerto. He has also performed as principal double bass for many other ensembles, including Collegium Vocale and L’orchestre des Champs Elysées (Philippe Herreweghe), Les Musiciens du Louvre (Marc Minkowski), Anima Eterna (Jos van Immerseel), Bach Collegium Japan (Masaaki Suzuki) and the Freiburger Barockorchester, participating in more than 50 CD recordings, and performing in many of the great concert halls and leading festivals throughout the world.

In Holland, James Munro collaborated for many years with such leading chamber ensembles as the Amsterdam Bach Soloists and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble, and still performs regularly with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, with whom he has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia and North America, has participated in numerous CD recordings, and has worked under many great conductors including Carlo Maria Giulini, Sir Georg Solti and Bernard Haitink.

As a founding member of the Ensemble Ausonia, he has continued to explore to the full the potential roles of the violone and double bass, both in their capacity as instrument of the “basso continuo” and as soloist, performed in many leading festivals throughout Europe including those of Versailles, Ambronay and St. Petersburg, and more recently in the Montreal Baroque Festival, in addition to numerous radio broadcasts and 3 enthusiastically received CD recordings. He has given numerous masterclasses on both double bass and violone, and is currently the double bass coach for the National Youth Orchestra of The Netherlands.

He performs on a marvellous double bass by the great Italian violin maker G. Ponormo, and on a particularly rare violone by the Italian master luthier of the Cremonese school, J. Ruggieri (1690’s).


Ensemble Ausonia