Dr. Jamie Apgar

Jamie Apgar

Chapel Musician
B.A., Yale University
M.A., Univesity of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Curriculum Vitae


Jamie Apgar is a scholar and performer specializing in the musical cultures of early modern England. His Ph.D. dissertation (University of California, Berkeley, 2018) examined the politics of worship in the late Tudor and early Stuart Church of England using references to “singing by course,” an assemblage of vocal practices that contemporary divines created and debated according to an array of agendas. He has presented this work at conferences in the US and UK. A related essay, published in 2019, traced the reception of two ancient stories that medieval and early modern Christians used to link different kinds of vocal performance to the practices of heaven. An essay on the relationship between the laus musicae tradition and Jacobean Puritanism is due out in 2021. Jamie’s secondary interest in reconstructions of incomplete works—pieces composed for multiple voices where one or more voice parts does not survive—led to an article, co-authored with Richard Freedman and Micah Walter, on the Du Chemin Lost Voices Project. He also reconstructed Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder’s motet Da pacem, Domine for a recording by the Byrd Ensemble (Seattle). Current research projects include a study of the reception of William Byrd’s Great Service following its first modern performances in 1923 (the 300th anniversary of the composer’s death), and an article tracing the persistence of the medieval rhetoric of anagogy—the idea that music provokes contemplation of the joys of heaven—within Elizabethan and Jacobean Protestantism.

Jamie has also maintained an active performing career. He currently directs the music program at All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley, having previously served as organist for Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic churches. As a tenor and countertenor he has sung with numerous professional ensembles, including the Choir of Washington National Cathedral, the Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, American Bach Soloists, and Clerestory.

Why I Teach:

I teach because I want to help students discover new ways of understanding how humans experience, engage, and know. For me teaching is political: it equips students with intellectual tools that can be used to unpack assumptions, critique oppressive structures, and imagine alternatives. I see historical analysis—my main disciplinary approach—as a particularly apt means for entraining this sort of political posture. As Drew Gilpin Faust once put it, history teaches us that things have changed, are changing, and will change. This can help promote intellectual humility, particularly around constructed knowledge that we mistake as “natural” or “inevitable,” and, just as importantly, hope.

Courses Taught:

  • Church Music and Liturgical Singing

Selected Publications:

  • “Puritan Praise of Music,” in Elizabethan and Jacobean Praises of Music, ed. Samantha Arten and Katherine Butler (Routledge, forthcoming)
  • “How to Sing like Angels: Isaiah, Ignatius of Antioch, and Protestant Worship in England,”in Music, Myth, and Story in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Katherine Butler and Samantha Bassler (Boydell & Brewer, 2019), 141–55
  • “In Search of Lost Voices,” co-authored with Richard Freedman and Micah Walter, Journal of the Alamire Foundation 9 (2017), 137–72

Recent Presentations:

  • “Music, Worship, and Knowledge Formation,” invited response for Colloquium of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA (2018)