James E. (Jim) Shearer holds a D. M. A. in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He teaches tuba, euphonium, music history and music appreciation to graduate, undergraduate and honors students at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. In addition, he presents concerts, master classes and lectures as a Yamaha Performing Artist. His most recent jazz recording, The Memphis Hang, was released on Summit Records in June 2008. Working with Memphis musicians including Charlie Wood and Billy Gibson, Shearer is currently booking community concerts and educational outreach programs with these talented artists in support of their new project.
An active classical soloist, Dr. Shearer has appeared throughout the United States as a guest artist with various wind ensembles and orchestras and in solo recital performances in The Great American Tuba Show. In 2000, he premiered the Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra by Samuel Hollomon at the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference in Canada. In 2003, he won a concerto competition hosted by the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra (San Francisco), again performing the Hollomon concerto. He premiered The Haunted America Suite (for horn, tuba and piano) by Justin Raines in 2007 at a regional International Tuba-Euphonium Conference in Tucson, Arizona. A recording project for this new piece is currently underway.
In the early 90s, Dr. Shearer traveled to Switzerland as a participant in the 47th Concours International d’Exécution Musicale, the first time this prestigious competition included the tuba as a solo instrument. He has toured Japan as a member of the Eastman Wind Ensemble, playing concerts and recording a compact disc for the Sony Classical label. In 2006, Shearer toured Colombia with the NMSU Faculty Brass Quintet and Wind Ensemble for the United States Department of State. While in Colombia, he performed for over 25,000 people at the national band festival and gave educational classes in Bogotá and Paipa. He is a former Principal Tubist with the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and a current member of the El Paso Brass, with whom he has released three commercial recordings. His playing can also be heard on blues artist Eric Bibb’s recent CD Diamond Days on Telarc Records. During a recent regional broadcast, Saint Paul Sunday host Bill McGlaughlin referred to Shearer and his tuba playing as the “lowest of the low brass!” (We think he meant it as a compliment.)
An active supporter of both the euphonium and tuba, Shearer spent 15 years working for the International Tuba and Euphonium Association, serving as the Advertising Coordinator for the ITEA Journal from 1993 to 2003. Then from 2003 – 2007 he served on the ITEA Executive Committee as Publications Coordinator. In that position he oversaw publication of the ITEA Journal, the creation of the ITEAonline.org website and worked with the Tuba-Euphonium Press, which has a current catalog of over 600 works all featuring the Tuba and Euphonium in solo and chamber music.
Dr. Shearer is the author of two music appreciation textbooks, Classical Basics and Jazz Basics, both published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. These books have been positively received throughout the academic musical community and are currently being used by a number of colleges and universities.
Jim Shearer was born in Water Valley, Mississippi in 1964. His family owned the local newspaper, The North Mississippi Herald, where his mother continues to work today. His father was an active musician on the side, playing jazz saxophone and serving as Minister of Music at the family church (but never at the same time!). Growing up in a musical household, it was almost inevitable that Jim would choose music as a career. He became a tubist because no one else in band would play the instrument. Early success led to a position in the Memphis Youth Orchestra and a summer at the National Music Camp (Interlochen). Following high school, Shearer attended Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he was a member of the faculty brass quintet throughout most of his undergraduate career. He later attended New Mexico State University, where he earned a masters degree in music theory and composition and was then accepted into the performance program at Eastman. Upon completion of his doctorate, he taught briefly at Southern Arkansas University before moving back to Las Cruces to join the faculty at New Mexico State. His wife, Celeste, is also a music educator and performer (horn and piano). The couple makes their home in Las Cruces with their two dogs Hannah and Toulouse.