Banchory composer returns to his roots

James Clapperton's music has brought new life to Roscobie House
James Clapperton's music has brought new life to Roscobie House

The sound of music is breathing new life into an historic Banchory mansion.

Composer and concert pianist James Clapperton has returned to his home town after nearly four decades away.

He has started a piano tuition class in his home - Roscobie House off Corsee Road.

And the musician is keen to add to the number of students bringing fresh sounds to the stately property.

James, 51, and Russian wife Svetlana, a singer, recently held a concert in Banchory Christian Fellowship Church when the audience was treated to his own music and “everything from Rachmaninoff to Gracie Fields”. Svetlana performed wartime Soviet songs.

James decided to move home following the death a year ago of his father, Chalmers Clapperton, a retired geography professor at the University of Aberdeen.

Born and brought up in Banchory, he initially studied piano with David Gill, a great uncle of Princess Diana on her mother’s side of the family, at the manse in Strachan.

The former Banchory Academy pupil said: “He didn’t just give me piano lessons, he took me through the whole history of music. He inspired me.”

The young pianist then went on to study in Manchester, Germany, the USA and Holland and then further afield.

As a musician, his cultural life above the Arctic Circle began in 2002 with invitations to play piano with the Bode Sinfonietta.

In January, 2014, James took up the post of producer of the Arctic Arts Festival of Norway.

His main tasks were promoting Samí, or Lapp culture and music, and co-operation with Arctic Russia. This task came about as a consequence of involvement in the Russian cultural scene dating back to 1992.

James met his wife after bringing a production of Anna Karenina from Vladivostok to Arctic Norway.

Now back in Deeside, he is concentrating on building up his piano class.

James said: “The house desperately needs life.

“When the pupils are here we always take extra time for lessons and, with the surroundings, try to create a similar atmosphere that David Gill created when I was studying with him.

“I love the teaching because it gets you out of yourself and the pupils are very keen. It is a good mix and a broad sweep of music.”

Anyone interested in the class can contact James at