R. James Whipple
Artist Lecturer in Music Theory
R. James Whipple, Artist Lecturer in Music Theory, is a composer, bassoonist, and chamber musician. He coaches chamber music at Carnegie Mellon, and teaches classes in counterpoint and harmony. Outside the University, he is Artistic Director and Bassoonist with the Renaissance City Winds. He was composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh New Residency of MEET THE COMPOSER between 2001 and 2005. His music has been performed, published, recorded, and broadcast in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Whipple writes predominantly for chamber ensembles, but his catalog also includes works for band, chorus, orchestra, keyboard, and solo instruments. He is particularly interested in interdisciplinary collaborations, with scores for modern dance and mime theater productions and three collaborative poetry works with Samuel Hazo, Pennsylvania's first State Poet. His Concertino for An Autumn Mood - for solo bassoon, strings, and harp - was recorded for the MMC label by the Czech Radio Orchestra under the direction of Gerard Schwarz. In recent years, he has written many works especially for student groups in middle and high schools where the Renaissance City Winds has performed extended residencies, often training students to compose the basic themes of the pieces.
Whipple has a busy career as a chamber music performer and administrator. He was a founding member of Pittsburgh's Renaissance City Winds in 1975, and has served as Artistic Director since 1978. The group makes 50-100 public appearances each season, has released two CDs, and tours throughout the eastern United States. Whipple also plays Baroque bassoon with Bach and the Baroque, an early-instrument group based at the University of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh Baroque. On modern bassoon, he has recorded with Centaur, CRI, Serenus, and CBS/Sony, and was Principal Bassoon with the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra for fourteen seasons.
Whipple has extensive experience in arts administration; he currently serves as General Director of the Renaissance City Wind Music Society, which sponsors the performing ensemble. He is often invited to give presentations at conferences on various aspects of chamber music programming, ensemble organization, and marketing, and has been appointed to a number of funding review panels for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
His principal composition teachers were Roland Leich and David Del Tredici; he also studied with Leonardo Balada and Gardner Read. His bassoon teachers included Arthur Kubey (principal, Pittsburgh Symphony), Richard Plaster (contrabassoon, Boston Symphony Orchestra), and Mark Popkin (Clarion Quintet, Mostly Mozart Festival).
Mr. Whipple has also taught at Carlow University, Slippery Rock University, West Virginia University, and the Chamber Music Conference of the East at Bennington College. His academic interests include counterpoint, American music history, and wind chamber music literature. Before becoming a full-time musician in 1975, he earned a degree in physics and worked as a research assistant for the U.S. Naval Air Development Center, where he was the principal author of a technical paper. He welcomes double-majors and non-music majors into his Carnegie Mellon classes.