James Denton has been a cellist with the world-renowned Houston Symphony since 1988. As seniors in high school, he and Chicago Symphony Principal Cellist John Sharp, became the youngest members of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Denton was in the third class of The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University where he earned a Bachelor of Music magna cum laude, as well as a Master of Music degree in Cello Performance (conferred concurrently in 1982). While there, he studied with Shirley Trepel and toured the United States with the Houston Grand Opera Studio. As a post-graduate Denton studied with William Pleeth in London, Lev Aronson in Dallas and Robert LaMarchina in Honolulu. Before moving to Honolulu in 1985 Denton performed Dvorák’s Cello Concerto with the Galveston Symphony and became active as an alumnus in SYZYGY, the ensemble for New Music at Rice. In a 1984 SYZYGY concert, Denton performed Canto di Speranza for piano quartet by Jan Tausinger and Grave, metamorphoses for cello and piano by Witold Lutoslawski, both of which were reviewed by Charles Ward of the Houston Chronicle. While studying cello in Honolulu from 1985-1988, Denton was a cellist with the Honolulu Symphony, serving for one year as Acting Assistant Principal. He was also on the faculty of the Punahou School as Instructor of Cello and Chamber Music. Denton gave faculty recitals at the Punahou School and performed multiple times at the Academy Theatre in the Honolulu Academy of Arts, including chamber music concerts with Joseph Silverstein and José Feghali, the latter of which was his 1988 “farewell” recital subsequent to his winning a position with the Houston Symphony earlier in the year. After assuming his position with the Houston Symphony, Denton was invited by Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and composer-in-residence Tobias Picker, to perform with INNOVA, a group dedicated to the performance of contemporary chamber music featuring The Houston Symphony New Music Ensemble. Denton performed Aribert Reimann’s Nocturnos for Violoncello and Harp as a guest artist in 1989.
Denton also combined his love of music with his enthusiasm for the digital revolution to bring about a unique and creative approach to internet marketing. Cambiata Consultants LC was a Limited Liability Corporation registered in the State of Texas, originally incorporated in 1995 as Cigar.com, LLC. Under his leadership, Cigar.com grew exponentially to become the dominant web portal site for the retail tobacco industry during its growth years of 1995-1999. During the Bosnian Civil War, Denton spearheaded Operation Cigar Lift, an innovative marketing concept that delivered over 100,000 donated cigars to U.S. military personnel serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1996, Denton conceived of Virtual Postcards as a way to bring the 1997 Houston Symphony European Tour to its patrons via the Internet. He coordinated an educational outreach program with Parker Elementary School, an HISD Exemplary School for instrumental music. Students studied the culture of each country the orchestra traveled to and posted messages daily for the Musicians of the Houston Symphony on a private USENET group. Denton’s efforts garnered a presentation to the Marketing and Development heads at the 1997 League of American Orchestras convention in Washington, D.C. Shortly after that, virtually every U.S. orchestra touring internationally adopted variations of his Virtual Postcards concept.
In 1999, Denton co-founded BDP, Inc., an internet design, database, and advertising corporation based in Austin, TX. BDP continued to develop the portal sites Cigar.com and T-shirts.com while while branching out into real estate with design and database solutions for Spectrum Apartment Search, Owners.com, and Mary Nell Garrison Realtors. BDP worked locally with Sicola Martin, Myriad Development, Amy’s Ice Creams, and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. On the national and international level, they designed sites for the Consolidated Cigar Corporation, America Recycles Day, the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, and Davidoff of London. They also worked on the United Nations trade database along with the University of Texas at Austin.
As a consultant specializing in translating traditional direct catalogue marketing to the Web, Denton has advised Thompson Cigars, Linen Source, Casual Living in Tampa, FL and Famous Smokeshop in NYC. He has presented internet marketing seminars in Washington, D.C. for the American Symphony Orchestra League; Orlando, FL for the Retail Tobacco Dealers; Austin, TX for the Austin Symphony Orchestra Board; and Houston, TX for The Houston Symphony, whose inaugural website they designed and maintained. BDP’s partners sold their assets in the Fall of 1999 and dissolved the corporation, thereby avoiding the “dot-com bubble” crash and becoming one of the few internet companies to actually demonstrate a profit. Over the years, Denton has organized fundraisers for CanCare (1994) and Holocaust Museum Houston (1999), benefit performances for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, the Coalition for Mutual Respect, Milam House (a Houston-area AIDS hospice), and a CD for the “Voices for Life” foundation. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Santa Maria Hostel, Inc. and a volunteer teacher for over seven years at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center.