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St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra

Layton ("Skip") James, Guest Conductor

Kris TjornehojThe SCVSO is pleased to welcome Layton James as Guest Conductor for the Spring 2014 season.

Mr. James, known as Skip to friends and colleagues, retired in June, 2010 from The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra where he had held the position of Principal Keyboard since 1969. In that role, he has been featured often as a chamber musician and concerto soloist. Mr. James is also a conductor and composer. He directed the Holiday Concerts for the SPCO for nine years, and, in 2007, was commissioned to write a cantata celebrating the life of Patricia Whitaker, a beloved Board member. Other commissions include an arrangement of Bach’s Solo Partita in B-flat for violin into a piece for string orchestra and violin soloist, and a setting of the Holy Communion liturgy for Bethel Lutheran Church, where Mr. James is Cantor and Organist. As a musicologist trained at Cornell University under Donald Jay Grout, he presents the popular and well-attended pre- concert Fanfare lectures at four different venues for the SPCO. He has been a guest artist with the St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Duluth Superior Symphony, Stuttgart Opera, The Lake Placid Sinfonietta, Aspen Music Festival, Music in the Vineyards, The Village Bach Festival, The Phipps Center for the Arts and The White Pine Festival. He recently guest-conducted the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra. His most recent appearances have been at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Madison, Wisconsin; and Music in the Mountains, Durango, Colorado.

Layton James is best known as an improvising continuo player at the harpsichord, organ and fortepiano. He has accompanied Pinchas Zukerman, Jean Pierre Rampal, Isaac Stern, Joshua Bell, Thomas Zehetmaier, Yo Yo Ma, ‘Slava’ Rostropovich, among others, in addition to his fellow SPCO players, and is the featured harpsichordist on two recordings of Handel’s ‘’Messiah’ conducted by Robert Shaw. He is frequently called upon to compose cadenzas for Baroque and Classic concertos. James’ academic career includes degrees from The College of Wooster, Cornell University, and Stanford University. He also builds harpsichords, including the instrument he performs on. When not making music, Mr. James can often be found on a trout stream with a vintage fly rod in hand.


St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra

Dr. Kristin Tjornehoj, professor of music at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, is the director and regular conductor of the St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra is comprised of UWRF students and of community members from the greater St. Croix Valley and explores a wide variety of repertoire. Designed to meet the needs of the membership by providing a quality performance venue, the group also excels at outreach for the St. Croix Valley.