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James Scott Balentine
Composer - Performer - Music Educator
Composer by character and performer by temperament, James Scott Balentine (Jim to those who know him) is as complex as his music; that is, moderately enigmatic yet engaging. Jim’s 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. Jim’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 his music with a sense of theater, from dramatic to playful. He is the recipient of awards, commissions and grants from the Barlow Endowment, the American Music Center, the Krost Foundation, the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, Cactus Pear Music Festival, ASCAP, the Opera Guild of San Antonio, the College Band Director's National Association, Musical Offerings, King William Winds, Hemisphere Quartet, Trio Con Brio, Duo Con Fuoco, KUT-FM radio, Claribel Clarinet Choir, soloists Robert Walzel (clarinet), Matthew Dunne (guitar), Ron Wilkins (trombone), Richard Smith (piano), and Roger Steptoe (piano). His music is published by Cimarron Music, Hal Leonard (Southern Music), and Guildhian Music.


A prolific arranger as well as composer, Jim’s arrangements have been performed by the San Antonio Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Mid-Texas Symphony, and others, and his big band charts are included in the libraries of professional and university jazz ensembles across the United States. His arrangements for solo violin and orchestra of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, commissioned and recorded by violinist Daniel Kobialka, were released summer of 2017 on Lisem Recordings.


A professional performer since high school, Jim is a freelance musician, primarily as a woodwind performer (clarinets, saxophones and flutes) in big bands, pit orchestras, and an eclectic mix of orchestra, bands and ensembles that includes performances with the Columbia Philharmonic Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Left Bank Jazz Ensemble, San Antonio Symphony, the Houston Jazz Orchestra, Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Maureen McGovern, Bob Hope, Tom Jones, John Denver, Johnny Mathis, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Diane Schuur, Jimmy Dorsey Band, Ringling Bros-Barnum and Bailey Circus, and national tours of Broadway shows including Annie Get Your Gun, The Producers, Guys and Dolls, Little Shop of Horrors, and many, many others.

Music Educator

Professor Emeritus of Music Theory and Composition at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Jim taught courses in music composition, theory, and jazz studies prior to his retirement in 2017. He holds 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 served as Director of Jazz Studies at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and was founder and owner of One Music Square, a full line retail music store.


Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1947, the son of a career Air Force officer, Jim was raised in Paris, France; Montgomery, Alabama; Tachikawa, Japan, and has since lived (from as little as six weeks to ten years) in such diverse locations as Winnipeg (Canada), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Zurich (Switzerland); Midwest City (Oklahoma), Columbia (South Carolina), San Francisco, Houston, Austin, and Huntsville (Texas), and currently resides in the hill country near San Antonio. He is a certificated private pilot, a pretty good cook, a passable tennis player (pun intended), and a great fan of interdisciplinary and adventurous pursuits.