James Baillieu was born in South Africa and graduated from the University of Cape Town in 2004 where he was awarded all the piano prizes. From 2005 he studied with Michael Dussek, Malcolm Martineau and Kathryn Stott at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was the 2007—2008 Hodgson Junior Fellow and won the Christian Carpenter Awardy.
In 2004 he participated in the International Russian Music Piano Competition in California at which as a laureate he was awarded a scholarship to study in Vienna. At the Vienna International Pianists Academy, James was awarded the prestigious Rosario Marciano Prize.
James has won prizes at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards, the Richard Tauber Prize, the Royal Over-Seas League competition and Das Lied International Song Competition. He was also the winner of piano prize at the 2009 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition, as well as the Jean Meikle prize for the best duo.
He is a regular pianist and coach at the George Solti Accademia di Bel Canto in Italy where he has worked with Mirella Freni and Leo Nucci, and is a repertory professor for the Encuentro de musica y Academia de Santander in Spain. He was also a participant at the 2006 European Liedforum in Berlin and is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme. He recently attended the International Musicians Seminar held in Prussia Cove. He is a music coach for the Jette Parker young Artists Programme of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He is a pianist scholar for the Samling Foundation where he has worked with Sir Thomas Allen and Yvonne Kenny.
He has participated in masterclasses with Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, Thomas Quasthoff, Kiri Te Kanawa, Philip Langridge, Jan Philip Schulze, Sherrill Milnes, Richard Stokes, Helmut Deutsch, Pavel Vernikov, Rudolf Jansen and Maxim Vengerov. James' recent performances with singers include recitals with Jared Holt, Gerard Collett, Katherine Broderick, Martene Grimson, Allan Clayton, Jacques Imbrailo, Sarah-Jane Brandon and Kishani Jayasinghe. His performances have included solo and chamber recitals throughout the UK, including BBC broadcasts, as well as in Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Slovenia, South Africa and Poland. Recent performances include the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Aix-en-Provence, Derry and Norfolk and Norwich Festivals, Wigmore Hall, Festpillene i Bergen and recitals in Europe. James has also been invited to take part in the Ravinia Festival in the USA.