James Gillespie is Emeritus Regents Professor of Music at the University of North Texas in Denton. Prior to joining the U. N. T. faculty in 1978, he served as a faculty member at Concord College, Indiana State University (adjunct), University of Redlands and Northeast Louisiana University (Monroe). He holds the master’s and doctorate degrees in clarinet/woodwinds from Indiana University where he studied clarinet with Henry Gulick. He also studied with Mitchell Lurie. His reference books on works for reed trio and solos for unaccompanied clarinet have become standard references in the field, and he has edited works for Musica Rara, Southern Music Company and Billaudot.
For 37 years he was the Editor of The Clarinet, the quarterly journal of the International Clarinet Association, to which he contributed numerous articles, and was named Editor Emeritus upon his retirement. He has performed at clarinet conferences in Denver, Oberlin, Quebec, Cincinnati, Tempe, Columbus, Lubbock, Oklahoma, Fresno, Ostend, Stockholm, Changchun, Salt Lake City, Paris, Vancouver, Beijing and Tokyo and has given solo and chamber music recitals in England, Scotland, Japan, Hong Kong, Hungary, Germany, Puerto Rico and Taiwan. Composers from France, England, Belgium and the United States have dedicated works to him, and he has premiered several new works for clarinet. In 1994, 1995 and 1997 he served on the jury for the Dos Hermanas International Clarinet Competition in Spain, and during the summer of 1997 he performed at the I. C. A. ClarinetFest at Texas Tech, the Cracow Clarinet Festival in Cracow, Poland and the first-ever European Clarinet & Saxophone Conference in Budapest, Hungary.
He has performed and recorded as a member of the Texas Clarinet Consort. His former students hold positions in numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States and in major military bands in Washington, D.C. Several have been semi-finalists and prizewinners in the I.C.A. Young Artist Competition and on two occasions winners in the clarinet category of the Yamaha Young Performing Artist program.
In 2005 he was honored by the International Clarinet Association with an Honorary Membership at the I.C.A. ClarinetFest in Japan. He is an artist-clinician for Buffet Crampon and D’Addario International.
“. . . super clarinet playing.” Clarinet and Saxophone (England) “ . . . truly a pleasure to listen to, with all the smoothness and control that really mark the musician at the instrument.” Mitchell Lurie “. . . Beautiful sound, admirable dynamic range, sensitive phrasing, and, perhaps the most impressive facet of his artistry: his impeccable intonation. . . should his next British recital take place in the Outer Hebrides, anybody who appreciates fine clarinet playing should make every attempt to hear him.” Crescendo (England) “ . . . would have been a sensation at even the most prestigious festivals in the world . . . excellent . . . particularly outstanding." Gazeta Wyborcza (Cracow, Poland).