Skip Sempé, virtuoso harpsichordist, director and founder of Capriccio Stravagante, is at the forefront of today’s musical personalities in Renaissance and Baroque music. Sempé grew up in New Orleans, studied music, musicology, organology and the history of art in the United States at the Oberlin Conservatory and completed his training in Europe with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam. His distinctive harpsichord playing, musicianship and interpretive flair were immediately recognized as the invention of an exotic, multi-dimensional and uncompromising musical personality. Sempé remained in Europe to embark on his own pioneering reconsideration of well and lesser-known repertoire ranging from 1500-1750.
As a solo performer, Sempé has focused on developing a superb sense of idiomatic harpsichord touch and a finely tuned ear for achieving variation in the instrument’s sonority. Performing and recording on the world’s most prestigious harpsichords, made by Ruckers, Skowroneck, Kennedy and Sidey, Skip Sempé is particularly known for his interpretations of the French classical harpsichord literature including Chambonnières, d’Anglebert, Forqueray, Louis and François Couperin and Rameau, for his adventurous and ground-breaking Bach and Scarlatti, and for the earlier virginalist repertoire of Byrd and his contemporaries.
For 2006/07, Skip Sempé was named Artist-in-Residence for BOZAR Music in Brussels, with a ‘carte blanche’ of five concert appearances, in recital, with Capriccio Stravagante, the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra, the Collegium Vocale Gent and B’Rock – and including a special event of Masterclasses and Lectures for the Orpheus Instutite in Ghent in the ‘Artistic Witness’ series.
Following fifteen years of prizes and awards with three prestigious labels, Skip Sempé founded the Paradizo label in 2006. The label will release all of Capriccio Stravagante and Skip Sempe’s new recordings, assuring Capriccio Stravagante’s own tradition of presenting important new instrumental and vocal soloists. In founding the Paradizo label, Skip Sempé adds the role of impresario to his ever-growing list of activities as harpsichordist, musical director of Capriccio Stravagante, guest musical director, coach, teacher and lecturer.