James Thatcher began his professional career at age 16 when he played and studied in Mexico City with his uncle, Gerald Thatcher, former principal hornist with the National Symphony of Mexico. Subsequent instructors have included Fred FoxDon Peterson, Wendell Hoss, James DeckerVincent DeRosa and master classes with Hermann Baumann. Mr. Thatcher has been a member of the Phoenix Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.[1]

He is currently principal horn of the Pasadena Symphony, the New West Symphony and the Los Angeles Music Center Opera, but principally he is a studio player, a recipient of the Most Valuable Player Award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences and “arguably the most often heard horn player in the world” due to his performances on some 70 to 80 films per year for the last 20 years.


James has the enviable position of being the favored first horn of multiple Oscar winning composer John Williams performing in such films as AlwaysJurassic ParkThe Lost WorldSleepers (in which he received an on-screen credit), NixonSchindler’s ListJFK,SabrinaHome AloneRosewoodSeven Years in Tibet and The Patriot as well as the fanfare for the 1992 Olympics. He also works regularly with other Hollywood greats Jerry GoldsmithJames Newton HowardRandy NewmanJohn BarryJames Horner and Alan Silvestri to name a few and can be heard as well in the tracks to GloryThe RocketeerField of DreamsMonster HouseX-Men: The Last StandRobotsSpider-Man 3Ice AgePolar ExpressBeowulfDances with WolvesToy StoryCarsMaverickApollo 13,Forrest GumpTitanicPearl HarborConstantineNational TreasureTransformersThe Simpsons MovieNight at the Museum,DinosaurAtlantis: The Lost EmpireKing KongSignsLady in the WaterPeter PanFirst KnightHook as well as Independence Day, and the Star Trek films.[citation needed] Most recently, Mr. Thatcher was deemed principal horn in James Newton Howard’s soundtrack ofThe Last Airbender directed by M. Night Shyamalan.[2]

Thatcher has joined Kristy Morrell on the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music as the co-professor of Horn. Notable students include J. Greg Miller.


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