In 1969 Dennis James matriculated at Indiana University as a freshman majoring in organ performance at the School of Music. He spent a season playing cymbals in the Marching Hundred before moving on to be the piano accompanist for the Singing Hoosiers.
James performed his first organ accompaniment to the Phantom of the Opera in the Indiana University Auditorium in 1969 to a packed house of about 4,000 attendees. Apparently only 400 tickets were printed as he expected a small crowd. Many times in the 1970s, James returned to the Auditorium to accompany silent movies. These performances were always very popular among Bloomington's creative community, many of whom dressed for the shows in costumes fitting the theme of the film (or not). Audience-watching became nearly as entertaining as the films and music.
The program was revitalized in 2006 with a return performance by Dennis on October 31st, and on Halloween 2007 he returned to the Auditorium to accompany the classic silent movie The Cat and the Canary. His 2008 performance featured Nosferatu.
Dennis James has played all over the world on many famous pipe organs.