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    James, Layton

    Composer, conductor and keyboardist who attended the College of Wooster, Cornell University and Stanford University, and studied with Dr. Donald Jay Grout.


    In 1969, he became the principal keyboardist of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.  His tenure got off to an auspicious and proactive start.  He asked Leopold Sipe, the SPCO’s music director, if he could perform a piece of music by Franz Joseph Haydn.  Leopold asked him what instrument he intended on playing.  When Layton answered the harpsichord, Leopold said it wasn’t in the budget.  Undeterred, Layton built one.  His arsenal of instruments also includes the celesta, fortepiano, pipe organ and synthesizer.


    Minnesota Public Radio aired his recital with Philip Brunelle on 19th April 1981.  The program included Brunelle’s “Christ the Lord Has Risen Today”, Lynwood Farnam’s “Oh Sons and Daughters of the King”, Cesar Franck’s “Chorale No. 3 in A minor”, George Frideric Handel’s “Concerto Grosso in F major, Op. 3, No. 4, HWV 314”, Herbert Howells’ “Saraband for the Morning of Easter”, Paul Manz’s “Unto Thee All Praise Be Given, King of Kings and Lord of Lords”, Olivier Messiaen’s “Song for Birds”, Flor Peters’ “All Glory Be to God on High” and Charles-Marie Widor’s “Toccata”.


    In April 2002, the SPCO premiered his transcription for string orchestra of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Partita in B minor”.  He was commissioned to compose a cantata for SPCO board member Patricia Whitaker in 2007.  On 7th April 2013, the parish choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City performed his hymn, “They Rolled the Stone Away”.


    His other works include “Two Festive Christmas Settings for Trumpet and Organ” (Bach’s “Hear, King of Angels” and Handel’s “Joy to the World”) and settings of the Holy Communion liturgy, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Handel’s Water Music.


    In June 2010, he retired from the SPCO.  Other groups with whom he worked during his career include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Blue Baroque, the Duluth Superior Symphony, the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Opera.


    In addition to his career as a chamber and orchestral musician, he has served as a clinician for the American Choral Directors Association and American Guild of Organists and music director and principal organist of the Bethel Lutheran Church in Hudson, Wisconsin.


    Recordings on which he appears include:  Bach/Vivaldi:  Concerti for 2 Violins, Boccherini:  Cello Concerto in B flat major/J.C. Bach:  Sinfonia Concertante in A major/Grand Overture (Symphony) Op. 18, No. 1, Pachelbel:  Canon and Gigue and Vivaldi:  The Four Seasons by Pinchas Zukerman; Baroque Trumpet Concertos and Trumpet & Orchestra by Sergei Nakariakov; Copland:  Appalachian Spring and Daniel S. Godfrey:  Wrinkled Moon with the SPCO; Georg Friedrich Handel:  Flute Sonatas, Opus 1, Numbers I-VI with Julia Bogorad and Charles Ullery; Handel:  Messiah by Robert Shaw; Paper Music by Bobby McFerrin; Party of Five:  A Feast of Vivaldi & Telemann with the Blue Baroque Band; Trumpet Works by Gary Bordner; Virtuose Violakonzerte; Vivaldi/Tartini/C.P.E. Bach:  Cello Concertos by Mstislav Rostropovich; William Mayer:  Dream’s End/Songs & Miniatures/Music for Brass and Winds; and, Zelenka:  Six Chamber Sonatas (volumes 1 & 2) with Kathryn Greenbank.



    1. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/state-of-the-arts/archive/2009/09/spcos-skip-layton-james-to-retire-after-41-seasons.shtml
    2. http://www.canticanova.com/cnp_info/james.htm
    3. http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/06/11/skip_james_100609
    4. http://archive.mprnews.org/stories/19810419/interview-layton-james-philip-brunnel
    5. http://www.manta.com/c/mmy38bp/layton-james
    6. http://www.thegraphicweekly.com/2012/dec/handelsmessiah12202012.html
    7. http://stpaulsokc.org/music-list
    8. http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Two-Festive-Christmas-Settings-for-Trumpet-and-Organ/17311509
    9. http://www.morningstarmusic.com/composers-james.cfm
    10. http://www.lakesareamusic.org/?page_id=3312
    11. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/layton-james-mn0001633366
    12. http://www.fullharmonic.com/products.html
    13. http://www.schubert.org/shop/cd/













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