Composer by character and performer by temperament, James Scott Balentine is as complex as his music; that is, moderately enigmatic yet engaging. His compositions are fun and interesting to play, intriguing to the listener, and crafted in a personal language influenced by ethnic dance, jazz and folk idioms, tonal as well as atonal and serial techniques.
His catalog includes music written for soloists and ensembles from many parts of the United States, Belgium, France, and the UK, all incorporating the personality, technique, and musical character of the performers in some way. Balentine’s fondness for wordplay and poetry finds its way into many of his works as phonetic motifs, alliterative program notes, a poetic prologue, or formal musical structures designed around names, prosody, and other linguistic elements that infuse a sense of theater into all of his music.
Awards, grants and commissions for his music have come from the Barlow Endowment, the Opera Guild of San Antonio, ASCAP, the American Music Center, Cactus Pear Music Festival, and many chamber ensembles and soloists. A prolific arranger as well as composer, Balentine’s arrangements have been performed by the San Antonio Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, and others, and his big band charts are included in the libraries of professional and university big bands across the United States.
Balentine is Professor of Music at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and teaches courses in music theory, composition, and jazz studies. He received bachelor and master degrees from the University of South Carolina and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. His composition teachers included Hunter Johnson, Gordon (Dick) Goodwin, Samuel Douglas, Eugene Kurtz, Barton McLean and Karl Korte. He has also been directly involved with the retail music business as founder and owner of One Music Square, a full line music store in Huntsville TX.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1947, the son of a career Air Force officer, Balentine was raised in Paris, France; Montgomery, Alabama; Tachikawa, Japan, and has since lived in such diverse locations as Winnipeg (Canada), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Zurich (Switzerland); Midwest City (Oklahoma), San Francisco (California), and Houston, Austin, and Huntsville (Texas). He currently resides in the hill country near San Antonio.