James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada, the US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. His work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, the Louis Applebaum Composers Award, the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music, SOCAN’s Jan V. Matejcek Concert Music Award, a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, and the Outstanding Choral Work Award from the Association of Canadian Choral Communities.
The Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company production of Mr. Rolfe’s opera Beatrice Chancy played to sold-out houses and rave reviews in Toronto, Dartmouth, and Edmonton. The company later produced Inês, which was nominated for a Dora Award. Three masques--Orpheus and Eurydice, Aeneas and Dido, and Europa--were premiered by The Toronto Masque Theatre to critical and audience acclaim. Elijah’s Kite, an opera for children, was co-produced in New York by Tapestry Opera and the Manhattan School of Music, and given its Canadian premiere before the Governor-General at Rideau Hall. His opera Swoon was premiered by the Canadian Opera Company, which commissioned a new opera, Crush. Current projects include an opera based on Gogol's The Overcoat for Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera with writer Morris Panych, as well as new works for soprano Janice Jackson, Continuum Contemporary Music, Soundstreams, and the Hannaford Street Silver Band.