Skip Sempé

American harpsichordist, musicologist and conductor (New Orleans, 1958 - )

Virtuoso harpsichordist, conductor and founder of Capriccio Stravagante, Skip Sempé is at the forefront of today’s Renaissance and Baroque music’s disciples.

Born in New Orleans, Skip Sempé studied music, musicology, organology and art history at Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory of Music (USA), before completing his training in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt. He then chose to settle in Europe to further his own rediscovery of a known or less known repertoire from 1500 to 1750. Skip Sempé quickly became known as a musician of great historical and organological knowledge. This curiosity led him to defend a lively and committed conception of the performer, engaging in research to revive the most important improvisation practices in Renaissance music.

As an harpsichordist and conductor, he brings together many musicians in his Capriccio Stravagante, founded in 1986, which is now composed of three ensembles: Capriccio Stravagante, the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra and Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violons.

As a soloist, Skip Sempé is particularly famous for his affinity with works from the Elizabethan period, French harpsichord literature (d’Anglebert, Chambonnières, Forqueray, Louis and François Couperin, Rameau, Bach and Scarlatti), as well as for his improvising skills and transcribing expertise.

He is regularly invited as guest conductor, and performed with Julien Martin, Josh Cheatham, Sophie Gent, Olivier Fortin, Pierre Hantaï, Doron Sherwin, and the B' Rock ensembles, Gent Collegium Vocale, the Pygmalion Choir, Chanticleer, Les Voix Humaines, the Montreal Studio de Musique Ancienne, the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

Adding the position of artistic director to his activities as harpsichordist, conductor, teacher and lecturer, he founded Paradizo, his own label, in 1986 to release his recordings as a soloist or with his numerous ensembles. He is also known for his editorial projects including his documented homage to Wanda Landowska, who inspired him greatly, or a collection of his own essays on the subject.

Six landmark date in the life of Skip Sempé:

1986: Skip Sempé founded his ensemble, Capriccio Stravagante.
1990: His first recordings as a soloist and with Capriccio Stravagante received numerous awards abroad.
2006: Founded the Paradizo label
2010: Named Artist in Residence at the Utrecht Festival
2014: Appointed Artistic Director of the Terpsichore Festival, Paris
2015: Appointed Artistic Advisor of the Piccola Accademia di Montisi in Tuscany