James Dickenson studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), and lists Wen Zhou Li, Lydia Mordkovitch, Christopher Rowland, Daniel Phillips and Jerry Horner amongst his teachers and mentors. After graduating from the RNCM with a Bachelor of Arts and a postgraduate diploma, Dickenson moved to the US where he led the award-winning Degas Quartet for seven years, simultaneously teaching at Syracuse University as part of the resident quartet and also violin faculty, and also at Hunter College, Appalachian State University, Wayne State University, Indiana University South Bend, Millsaps College, and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
In 2010 Dickenson started the Villiers Quartet, who are now quartet-in-residence at the University of Oxford. The Villiers Quartet are represented by Logan Arts Management, and have given concerts in the UK, Holland and the US. Their discography includes the chamber music of William Sterndale Bennett, the complete quartets of Peter Racine Fricker, quartets by Elgar, Delius and Still, and the piano quintets of Shostakovitch and David Matthews. In 2019 the quartet toured California, and released two albums featuring the complete quartets of Alexander Goehr, and the four early quartets of William Alwyn. As a soloist Dickenson has released Spohr’s Violin Duos, Op. 67 on Naxos 8.573763.