James Apgar playing the piano

James Apgar has played piano since age four, sung in choirs since his youth, and composed and studied organ since age 14. In 2008, he traveled to Oxford University for the premiere of a composition he wrote for the Magdalen College Choir.

Now a Ph.D. student in musicology at UC Berkeley, Jamie is thinking beyond the score. Although some “think of music scholarship as just looking at notes and trying to explain them,” he’s studying music “in a broader context, as a phenomenon of culture and a phenomenon of society.”

Jamie says he owes his “whole presence at Berkeley” to the Ausfahl Family Fellowship Fund. It enabled the Baltimore native to return to his studies, after performing professionally following his 2009 graduation from Yale.

He plans a career in academia, perhaps focusing his research on Elizabethan music, but he also wants to perform, possibly as a university organist. A countertenor, he is lead alto in the choir at Berkeley’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and sings with Pacific Collegium, an Oakland boys’ and men’s choir.

“To me scholarship and performance…should always be informing each other, because music is a performed art,” he adds. “Sometimes people too easily forget that.”

— Janet Silver Ghent (Originally published in The Graduate, Spring 2011)