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James Holland was born in London and studied at Trinity College of Music. After National Service in the RAF Central Band he joined the London Philharmonic in 1956, moving to the LSO as principal in 1962. After joining the newly formed London Sinfonietta in 1969 he moved from the LSO to the BBC Symphony in 1972, the start of the Pierre Boulez years. Combining the Sinfonietta and the BBC positions meant he was very involved in the contemporary music scene. He and David Johnson started the London Percussion Ensemble in the sixties. Holland wrote Percussion in the Menuhin Music Guides (1978) and Practical Percussion – a Guide to the Instruments and their Sources (2003).

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