Known to all as “Skip”, Layton James retired six years ago after 42 seasons as Principal Keyboardist for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He studied piano with Tsuya Matsuki in New York City from age 5-17. Following graduation from The College of Wooster in music and religion, in 1963, he studied musicology under Donald Grout at Cornell University, and later pursued doctoral studies at Stanford University. He has found his true calling to be performance, conducting, and composition. A noted pianist, he was awarded the status of Steinway Artist in 2009. A famous continuo harpsichordist, James built the instruments he played with the SPCO and other groups. As a composer, he has always felt very comfortable in the Baroque style, and has produced several cantatas, concertos and other works commissioned by the SPCO, his church, and his musical colleagues. Most recently, his “Suite in E-minor” for unaccompanied flute has had a wide following. His interpretations of Handel can be heard in the acclaimed recording of the “Complete Flute Sonatas” with Julia Bogorad and Charles Ullery. He has wide experience in arranging for instruments and voices, and is an expert orchestrator. He recently arranged Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine” for chorus and orchestra, performed at the premier concert of the Maui Chamber Orchestra. Other musicians frequently call on Mr. James to compose original cadenzas for classical concertos, most recently the violinist Chio-Liang Lin He instituted the pre-concert lectures before SPCO concerts known as “Fanfares,” and led them for thirty years. He was the featured harpsichordist on “Messiah” recordings with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony. Mr. James was a member of the chamber group “The Blue Baroque Band” which appeared at the Phipps in 2012, and has appeared as a pianist two other times at that venue. He has been Music Director and Organist at Bethel Lutheran Church in Hudson, for the past 18 years, where he conducts the 30-voice Bethel Chorale. He is a faculty member at UW River Falls, as a lecturer in harpsichord. He has recently been involved in several recording projects. He was harpsichordist/musicologist for the first American recording of Zelenka’s “Chamber Sonatas”, produced by Crystal Records, and made a DVD conducting Handel’s “Messiah” with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra and Chorus, in Petoskey, Michigan. He is currently recording a CD with trumpet player Mel Olson. He played keyboards for two seasons with Music in the Mountains, a festival in Durango, CO. He was both performer and arranger of music of Rameau for the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society of Madison, WI in 2012. He has appeared as harpsichordist this past summer in a concert at the Lakes Music Festival in Brainerd, MN; and the following week at a similar festival in Alexandria. He collaborates with Metropolitan Opera mezzo Margaret Jane Wray, with whom he has concertized in the Twin Cities and locally. This past season, Mr. James conducted Handel’s “Messiah,” a joint project of his church and the Phipps Center, on April 9. as well as leading the St. Croix Valley Symphony in two performances. He will appear as harpsichordist with flautist Adam Kuenzel at a benefit concert on October 8th. Married to Linda James, and ‘father’ to two dogs, he roots for the Green Bay Packers, and enjoys cooking and fishing.
Russia’s native violinist Natalia Moiseeva holds BM and MM degrees in Violin Performance from the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Russia where she studied with Sergey Girshenko, and a DMA degree in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota. She is a prizewinner of international and local competitions including National Youth Competitions (Russia) and University of Minnesota School of Music Concerto Competition. Natalia has appeared as a soloist with orchestras both in the United States and Europe. An avid chamber music player, she performs regularly in the Twin Cities Area as well as abroad collaborating with the members of Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Natalia is a regular guest artist with “ The Musical Offering” Twin Cities Premier Chamber Ensemble. She was a part of the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia named after Evgeny Svetlanov for five years before moving to the United States. Natalia is an assistant concertmaster of the Minnesota Opera orchestra and often performs with the Minnesota Orchestra. Currently she teaches Applied Violin at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Kristin Tjornehoj is the Director of Bands at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where she conducts the UWRF Symphony Band, St. Croix Valley Community Band and the St. Croix Valley Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Tjornehoj founded the Three Rivers Concert Band, a group of adult musicians from Minnesota and Wisconsin, who collaborate and participate in international outreach tours. She co-founded the Composers Conference at UWRF that brings chamber music composers together for a 3-day workshop with concerts and seminars. Dr. Tjornehoj has taught courses in wind conducting, history and literature.
An active guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator, Dr. Tjornehoj has served in these capacities throughout the United States and Canada, and in China, The Czech Republic, England, France, Iceland, Scotland and Spain. She has led performance tours throughout the United States and abroad. Recent experiences include bi-annual World Music and Music Appreciation study tours in Scotland, England and France, plus the Three Rivers Concert tour of Spain in 2014. Dr. Tjornehoj has served on the Shell Lake Arts Center faculty for over 15 years where she is the director of the Concert Band Camp.
Dedicated to the creation of new compositions, her credits of commissioned works or premiers by prolific composers include Joel Blahnick, Todd Coleman, Michael Colgrass, Gregory Fritze, Lars Jansson, Daniel Kallman, Johan de Meij, Joanne Metcalf, Craig Naylor, David Revill, Michael J. Roy, Jared Spears, Jack Stamp, Michael Torke, Joseph Turrin, Charles Young and John Zdechlick.
A participating member in several professional scholarly and community organizations, she currently serves on boards/committees of ArtReach St. Croix, Phipps Center for the Arts, St. Croix Valley Community Foundation in addition to the Wisconsin and Minnesota Music Educators Conferences. She is also a member of the League of American Orchestras, National Association for Music Education, National Band Association and the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles. Dr. Tjornehoj is active in church music as a saxophone player, pianist and choir director.