James Tapia

Setnor School of Music

Associate Professor, Applied Music and Performance (Conducting)
Director, Orchestral Activities

James Tapia portrait.

110 Crouse College
Syracuse, NY 13244-1010

James Tapia is director of orchestral activities and associate professor of music in the Setnor School of Music. He conducts the Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra and oversees the entire orchestra program. He teaches in the graduate conducting program in orchestral conducting. His graduate conducting students have enjoyed great success as conductors of university orchestra programs, youth orchestras, and professional orchestras alike. They have also won prestigious conducting competitions and have been awarded numerous research and study grants.

Tapia received the doctor of music degree in conducting from the University of Texas at Austin. His post-graduate work includes participation in the Carnegie Institute for Orchestral Conductors and the Pine Mountain Conducting Seminar. He has served on the faculties of Syracuse University, the University of Michigan, and Pittsburg State University.

Tapia is equally at home with professional, university, and youth ensembles. He has held the position of music director of the Syracuse Summer Festival Orchestra for the past 15 years. He is conductor of a professional music educator’s wind ensemble, the Central Winds. He also currently serves as conductor of the Syracuse Youth Orchestra.

Tapia began his professional conducting experience with the Tampa Bay Symphony as assistant conductor and has conducted the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, the Austin Bach Festival Orchestra, the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings, and the Dallas Wind Symphony along with many guest conducting experiences.

A strong advocate of music education, Tapia has presented many in-service workshops for public school educators, as well as numerous presentations at state and regional music education association conferences. In addition, he continues to conduct internationally, U.S. all-state orchestras and bands, and other regional and honor ensembles.

Tapia is a strong proponent of new music. He has been instrumental in the development and production of contemporary music festivals, and his interest in new music has led him to collaborations with such composers as Leslie Bassett, Karel Husa, Michael Daugherty, George Crumb, Donald Grantham, Andrew Waggoner, Dan Godfrey, and Andrew Meade.


  • D.M.A., University of Texas at Austin


Conducting and orchestral studies