UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Anyone can take lessons at UWRF through the Music Department and learn about figured bass on harpsichord from the world's leading expert, Layton "Skip" James. He has spent 42 years with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as the keyboard specialist before his post at UWRF.
This summer finds Layton "Skip" James at Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan leading classes on the keyboard and performing with some of the finest chamber musicians as a guest artist. Apply at UWRF and take lessons as a student under the master and international guru of Baroque Music.
Lessons will include an examination of the technical differences in touch, fingering, and articulation from piano or organ. The focus will be on the complete span of solo harpsichord literature from early Baroque to 21st century, but centered on the 18th century. Significant time will be spent learning how to play figured bass at sight, accompaniment, and improvisation. Basic maintenance and tuning of the instrument will be included as well. Students should exhibit a high degree of piano proficiency.
Layton James studied musicology at Cornell University under Dr. Donald Grout, taught at The
University of Hawaii and Stanford University. He led chamber ensembles designed to perform
in historically informed ways, exploring the latest research in Baroque performance practice.
For forty-two years, Mr. James was principal keyboardist with The Saint Paul Chamber
Orchestra, playing harpsichord continuo to Haydn symphonies, Baroque concertos, and making
recordings as an improvising continuo player with Pinchas Zukerman, Slava Rostropovich,
Robert Shaw, Christopher Hogwood, and Neville Marriner, among others. At the SPCO, he
played harpsichords that he had personally built, and other instruments made by him are in wide
use by private individuals and colleges. Most recently, he was harpsichordist for the chamber
group "The Blue Baroque Band," which has produced two CD's of music by Telemann and
Vivaldi, and he recorded the six Zelenka Trios for Crystal Records along with oboists Erin
Hannigan and Kathryn Greenbank, bassoonist Benjamin Kamins, and bassist Timothy Pitts.