Flaming flamenco, underwater tango


A MAN SITS on a chair on a small rug in the centre of a big stage. There is a little footstool on which he rests one foot. His body embraces a guitar in the manner of Spanish practitioners for hundreds of years. This is James Grace, arguably South Africa’s most well loved and skilled guitarist, and he’s not alone on stage for long: Recuerdos (Memories) is a gorgeous collaboration between Grace and the women of Carli Spanish Dance Productions. It is here that you experience the well-known music of Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909) and Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999), but the programme is not just focused on the popular tunes. It’s replete with a whopping 14 pieces [...]

Flaming flamenco, underwater tango2020-04-02T19:32:09+02:00

Artsmart: Chilled


Chilled will be enjoyed by all who love solo guitar music, and is sure to make a lot of new converts. (Review by Keith Millar) I have long been a fan of the music of South Africa’s classical guitar maestro, James Grace. So, when he releases a new CD it is, for me, something to get quite excited about. Named Chilled, this CD is a departure from Grace’s previous five solo guitar albums, which concentrated mostly on classical music for the instrument. On this occasion, he has featured his own arrangements of songs by artists which include The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Don Mclean, Jesse Harris, Carol King, Billy Joel and John Denver. There is also [...]

Artsmart: Chilled2018-02-09T09:01:13+02:00

Grocott’s Mail


Grace Delivers Orchestral Sound on His Guitar James Grace, one of South Africa’s top classical guitarists, enthralled the audience at a concert hosted by the Grahamstown Music Society on Tuesday 7 October. Grace, who heads the classical guitar programme at the University of Cape Town, showed why he was the first guitarist to receive the Tagore Gold Medal at the Royal College of Music in London. His programme was well chosen, focusing largely on Latin American and Spanish pieces which allowed him to elicit from his instrument an abundance of tonal colours and nuances. Beethoven once referred to the classical guitar as a “mini-orchestra” and Grace certainly let his instrument live up to this label. [...]

Grocott’s Mail2017-07-19T12:36:00+02:00

Artsmart 2014


Choice of music brings the best from the two guitarists. (Review by Keith Millar) The Music Revival Concert Series at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival offered a varied programme of music that would have suited the tastes of most classical music enthusiasts. Catering for the lovers of classical guitar was the concert entitled Two Guitars. This concert featured festival regular James Grace who is the head of guitar studies at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music and one of his pupils Chloe Murphy. Grace is one of South Africa’s leading concert artists. In recent times, he has appeared with Cape Town Philharmonic, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, the Johannesburg Festival and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras. [...]

Artsmart 20142017-07-19T11:20:13+02:00

Artsmart 2012


I have been a big fan of Cape Town guitarist James Grace since I saw him play with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra a few years ago. I subsequently bought his CD, Granada, and It fast became one of my favourite albums to listen to while driving long distances. The serene Spanish music soothes the soul and settles the nerves, and seems to shorten the distance. Nothing I heard at this concert at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival detracted from my fondness and admiration for the guitar playing of James Grace. In a concert of mainly contemporary music James produced a sublime performance of mesmerising skill and beauty. The concert was held in the Art Block [...]

Artsmart 20122017-07-19T11:20:46+02:00

The Witness


"…One of the highlights of the concert series must surely have been Cape Town guitarist James Grace with his matinée-idol good looks and beautiful renditions of Spanish guitar music. His technical brilliance, attention to detail and complete absorption in the music he was playing, made his performance an exciting and enjoyable experience." Mary – Anne Hartley

The Witness2015-01-26T16:19:31+02:00

Die Volksblad


'n Positiewe wind waai oor die Vrystaatse Simfonieorkes “…Al die seksies is na ’n hoër vlak van spel verhef as dit waaraan gehore die afgelope jare uitgelewer was. Die Kaapstadse kitaarsolis James Grace het dit dus goed getref, want uit die aard van dié instrument is die klankbalans ’n kritiese faktor, al het Grace sy klank effens versterk. Pianissimo-spel was in die verlede dikwels ’n probleem. Christopher Dowdeswell se orkestrale leiding en klankbeheer was Donderdag in die kol en die delikate nuanses van Grace se vertolking van die Concierto de Aranjuez van Rodrigo dus duidelik hoorbaar. Sy tegniek bied ’n betroubare onderbou vir sy fyn aanvoeling vir die kleurryke skildering van die koninklike lewe aan [...]

Die Volksblad2015-01-26T16:19:04+02:00

The Citizen


Grace under no pressure RECITAL:  James Grace - James Grace, who is head of guitar studies at the College of Music at the University of Cape Town, offered varied musical fare at his Northwards recital. PROGRAMME:  Music by Spanish and Latin-American composers VENUE:  Northwards, Parktown Some of the music was well-known, but most of the programme featured pieces known mainly to guitar enthusiasts. The venue itself proved to be ideal for the intimacy of the guitar, and there was a large attentive audience present. Grace’s technique is among the most silent I have heard – no squeaks and tweaks here. Expression was subtly applied, and rubato, where present, was discreet. Works by Garoto (a Brazilian) [...]

The Citizen2015-01-26T16:16:08+02:00



This is the third CD that James Grace has released under his own label, Stringwise Records. Each of his releases focuses on a different aspect of the guitar repertoire, giving them an added advantage for lovers of guitar music. The first, Granada, concentrates on the music of Spain. The second, Portrait, is a somewhat more ‘serious’ recital programme, while his latest, Café Latino, is a delightful, relaxed and exotic journey through the music of Latin American composers from Cuba, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I settled down to listen to Café Latino, but imagine my surprise when I discovered some enchanting and irresistible music, which creates an [...]




Triple Kudos for this Duo - Canciones Españolas with Zanne Stapelberg “… admirably supported by guitarist James Grace, the complete Latin experience unfolds in a spectacle of fire, passion, pathos and beguiling sensitivity. In a magnificently executed opening, Grace’s truly evocative guitar playing conjures up images, sounds and smells of the Latin Spanish world. This is musicianship of another order, where the listener is transported to a fantasy world of wonderment and beauty. Stapelberg and Grace’s ensemble is the creative pivot around which this recital revolves; their subtle communication, artistic awareness and perfect sense of dramatic timing allow song after song to become a living entity. Canciones en Española has been without a shadow of a [...]


Classic Feel Magazine


One of the 20th Century’s most influential classical guitarists, Andrés Segovia, once said that the mark of a true performer is ‘a sacred fire… that love without which, a performer may be perfect but nothing else.’ South Africa’s own James Grace, as he clearly demonstrates through his concert performances as well as his four acclaimed CD releases, has that fire in abundance. An Englishman by birth, he moved to Cape Town with his family when he was ten years old. He inherited a love for music in general and for the guitar in particular from his father. ‘My Dad played the guitar on an amateur level, so there was always a guitar lying around the [...]

Classic Feel Magazine2015-01-26T16:04:55+02:00

Artsmart 2009


‘…After the interval, the Cape Town guitarist James Grace joined the orchestra in Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez and showed that he is a top-class player with a total command of his instrument. The slow movement has made the name and fortune of this concerto, and the haunting main theme was played most expressively.’ Michael Green, 2009

Artsmart 20092015-01-26T12:26:18+02:00

The Herald Online


Superb Grace Concert in PE ATTENDING a classical guitar performance on a Sunday afternoon brought about a welcome change to the usual Port Elizabeth concert calendar, and with it, a fresh crowd of faces. It was indeed encouraging that the auditorium was uncharacteristically full, which only bears testament to the fact that the city has a need for more concerts of this genre. Opening his performance with Garoto‘s Improviso and Inspiração,Grace approached these Brazilian works with an ease of phrase, and immense musicality. Following this with three works by Barrios, he aptly displayed his versatility through the combination of both lyrical and bravado sections, including complex “appoggiaturas”. Dazzling fingerwork could be heard in Sor's Variations on [...]

The Herald Online2020-04-01T08:26:56+02:00

Classical Guitar Magazine


'Billed as one of South Africa’s leading concert guitarists, James Grace studied at the Royal College of Music with Carlos Bonell where he was the first guitarist to receive the Tagore Gold Medal and has also been awarded first prizes in two South African Competitions. On the strength of this, his second recording, he is a highly gifted performer with a strong technique, an excellent tone and a good sense of phrasing. All this, and the fact that he strongly resembles George Clooney, puts him in the running for a splendid future career. I have had great enjoyment from listening to this splendid recording and am delighted to have the opportunity to hear someone as [...]

Classical Guitar Magazine2020-04-02T19:28:35+02:00

Classic Feel Magazine


South Africa’s leading classical guitarist continues his Music of Spain series with this collection of Iberian classics. Grace demonstrates his impeccable technique and mastery of Spanish musical styles with works by Albéniz, Sor, Rodrigo, Malats, de Falla, Granados and Tárrega.  Grace’s recordings are an essential addition to the collection of any fans of classical or flamenco music as well as guitar aficionados. Sevilla - Music of Spain II Stringwise Records CDSTR 093

Classic Feel Magazine2015-01-26T16:02:55+02:00

Beeld 2008


JPO spoggerig met Gueller en Grace Dit is net menslik dat die hoë standaard wat die Johannesburg Philharmonic in die afgelope twee, drie jaar gevestig het nie altyd gehandhaaf kan word nie: daar is té veel elemente (soos die dirigent, die uiteenlopende orkeslede en die bepaalde repertorium) om te alle tye dié gehalte te waarborg. Die derde JPO-seisoen vanjaar het tot dusver goeie resultate gelewer, maar niks uitsonderliks nie. Tot gisteraand, met die Duitse dirigent Bernhard Gueller op die podium en die Kaapstadse kitaarspeler James Grace as solis. Voorste kitaarsoliste is oor dekades in die Goudstad gehoor in Rodrigo se Concierto de Aranjuez, met weergawes van Narciso Yepes, Alirio Diaz, Angel Romero en meer onlangs [...]

Beeld 20082015-01-26T12:26:03+02:00



Villa-Lobos Guitar Concerto Villa-Lobos's Guitar concerto maybe classified as modern (written in 1951) but it has a strong impressionistic flavour, with echoes of Spain constantly recurring. James Grace played with flair, and handles his guitar comfortably. I never liked amplification, but I guess without it, the orchestra would drown the guitar. (and in any event, Villa-Lobos prescribed it). The second movement was more lyrical and Grace's fingerwork was accurate and well controlled. In the final movement Villa-Lobos composed in a manner to show off the soloist's, skill and Grace did not disappoint. He played with great sensitivity in an extended solo part. Hughes's conducting ensured a happy balance between soloist and orchestra. KWANA Newspaper, 2007 [...]


Classic Feel Magazine


“…He has just released his second CD which he has called Portraitand it is a varied recital of important guitar composers and some transcriptions all played with the kind of intensity and elegance for which James Grace has become known. …His first CD Granada featured purely Spanish music, but Portraitbroadens the repertoire to include the weighty ‘Eroica Sonata’ by Giuliani and James’s own transcription of a Bach Fugue. Music by Villa – Lobos, Pujol and the guitar pedagogue Dietrich Wagner also feature on the CD. In fact, there is a world premier here of a piece called ‘Intermezzo’ by Dietrich Wagner, the score of which was recently presented to James Grace by his widow. …His quiet gentle demeanour ensures [...]

Classic Feel Magazine2015-01-26T16:01:23+02:00

Artsmart 2007


The soloist of the evening was the guitarist James Grace, who teaches this instrument at the University of Cape Town. He played the Guitar Concerto, written in 1951, by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. It is an interesting 20-minute work, in the modern idiom but not aggressively so, with roots in the indigenous music of Brazil. The guitar is a small-toned, intimate instrument and Villa-Lobos sanctioned the use of a microphone in performing this work. Without the loudspeakers on either side of the platform the sound of the guitar would have been lost in the City Hall, even though the orchestra’s role is small and discreet. James Grace, a tall young man with a mildly bohemian air, dark open-neck shirt, [...]

Artsmart 20072015-01-26T12:26:23+02:00