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.
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 founded Capriccio Stravagante in 1986, which now includes three ensembles: Capriccio Stravagante, the Capriccio Stravagante Renaissance Orchestra and Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violons.
He is regularly invited as a guest director, and has performed with Julien Martin, Josh Cheatham, Sophie Gent, Olivier Fortin, Pierre Hantaï, Doron Sherwin, Jordi Savall and the ensembles Collegium Vocale Gent, Vox Luminis, Capella Cracoviensis, Chœur Pygmalion, Le Concert des Nations, the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, B’rock and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.
In creating the Capriccio Stravagante Prize in 1998 and the Paradizo label in 2006, Skip Sempé added 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, lecturer, Artistic director of the Paris festival Terpsichore and Artistic advisor of the Piccola Accademia di Montisi. Paradizo also undertakes special projects, including ‘Memorandum XXI’, a volume of Skip Sempé’s Essays on Music and Performance.