James Clapperton was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1968. After studies in piano at Freiburg Hochschule für Musik with James Avery and at Buffalo University with Yvar Mikhashoff, he gained a Masters degree in Music at Exeter University with Philip Grange and a DPhil in composition at Sussex University with Michael Finnissy.
His concert debut was at the 1985 Edinburgh International Festival and following his first perfromance in Europe at the 1988 Darmstadt FeriEnkurse für Neue Musik he was awarded the Kranichsteiner MusikPreis. Since then he has concertised widely at various festivals including Ars Musica, Brighton, Doanaueschingen MusikTage, Huddersfield, Nuovi Spazi Musicali (Rome), Reykjavik Dark Music Days, Tallinn NYYD, St. Petersburg Soundways and Strasbourg Musica. He has performed with many distinguished musicians including Robert Aitken, Joan La Barbara, Jim Fulkerson, Yvar Mikhashoff and France-Marie Uitti and worked with composers such as John Cage, Michael Finnissy, Brian Ferneyhough, Klaus Huber and Salvatore Sciarrino.
In 1993 James was awarded the PRS award for his violin concerto The Preiching of the Swallow . Recent commissions include The Firmament Serene (Endymion Ensemble), The Testament of James Stewart (a theatre work commissioned by South West Arts) and O besy gostis for cello and piano, for a tour of Scotland given by Rebecca Gulliver and Paul James. His works have been performed at festivals in various countries and broadcaset on BBC Radio 3 and Radio Scotland, as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Holland and Norway.
James is Artistic Director of the Music Factory festival in Norway and was the composer in residence at teh Grigakadamiet Institutt for Musikk from 1998 to 2000.