Skip 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. He remained in Europe to embark on his own pioneering reconsideration of well and lesser- known repertoire ranging from 1500-1750.
Sempé quickly earned a reputation as a musician, whose knowledge of historical instrumental techniques provided the basis for a renewed interpretive conception of sonority and improvisation that had its origins in the music of the Renaissance.
Harpsichordist and conductor, he created Capriccio Stravagante in 1986, which now includes three ensembles: Capriccio Stravagante, the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra and Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violins.
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 Bach and Scarlatti, and for the earlier virginalist repertoire of Byrd and his contemporaries.
He is regularly invited as a guest director, and has performed with Julien Martin, Josh Cheatham, Sophie Gent, Olivier Fortin, Pierre Hantaï, Doron Sherwin, and the ensembles B’Rock, Collegium Vocale Gent, Chœur Pygmalion, Chanticleer, Les Voix Humaines, the Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montreal, the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
In founding the Paradizo label in 2006, Skip Sempé adds the role of impresario and recording producer to his ever-growing list of activities as harpsichordist, musical director of Capriccio Stravagante, guest musical director, teacher, coach, and lecturer. Paradizo also undertakes special projects, including a documented homage to Wanda Landowska and a volume of Skip Sempe’s Essays on Music and Performance.